At Senate Homeland Security Committee Hearing, Senator Shares Frustration Over Administration’s Lack of Transparency About Disbursement and Replenishment of Stockpile
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan emphasized the need to improve the procurement and distribution of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, which is maintained by the federal government to ensure access to medical supplies during public health emergencies, during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing today. Senator Hassan, who serves as ranking member of the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), questioned the witnesses on what more needs to be done to ensure that the Strategic National Stockpile is well-managed and includes the necessary supplies to better respond to public health crises.
To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.
“Obviously we have to improve the procurement and distribution of Strategic National Stockpile supplies during a pandemic,” Senator Hassan said. “My state of New Hampshire, like so many others, struggled to get the basics. And when they did get supplies from the National Stockpile, many items were unusable or expired. It's not enough to say we have a stockpile. Our stockpile must be sufficient and it has to be up to date.”
The Senator went on to ask Gregory Burel, former Director of the Strategic National Stockpile, about whether it maintains a national database of every item in the stockpile, including condition, date of purchase, and expiration date.
“We do maintain that information in a national database that we rely on for the kind of product rotation we do,” Mr. Burel said.
In response, Senator Hassan said, “It kind of begs the question about why the administration has failed to provide a clear picture of disbursement and replenishment rates over the past three months." The Senator stated that she would follow up with the administration on this issue after the hearing, which did not include current administration witnesses.
Senator Hassan’s questions today are part of her focus on ensuring that communities have access to necessary medical supplies to combat COVID-19. Senator Hassan recently led her colleagues in calling for answers from FEMA about nursing home and long-term care facility access to personal protective equipment following reports that FEMA is shipping insufficient and defective personal protective equipment to these facilities. Additionally, under pressure from Senator Hassan at a recent hearing, the FEMA Administrator agreed to make public a document showing some of the agency’s supply and demand projections.