(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) issued the following statements in response to President Joe Biden signing an Executive Order to fully utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA) and fill supply shortfalls for essential medical equipment and supplies needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Order follows the Senators’ call earlier this week for President Biden to quickly utilize his authorities under the DPA.
“I applaud President Biden for taking quick action to ensure that the federal government invokes the Defense Production Act where necessary to bolster our COVID-19 material supply chain,” said Senator Shaheen. “Fully invoking the DPA will allow the U.S. to ramp up manufacturing and equitable distribution of critical supplies like personal protective equipment, COVID testing materials and other resources health care providers need to protect themselves and treat the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the nation. More widespread use of the Defense Production Act will also help the federal government procure necessary equipment needed to produce and deliver the COVID-19 vaccines, which is especially critical as New Hampshire and other states move forward with implementation of vaccination distribution plans. This is an important step to enhance our federal response to the COVID crisis and I look forward to seeing the additional action items the Biden administration will implement in the days and weeks ahead.”
“More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and ensuring access to personal protective equipment, testing supplies, and COVID vaccines has never been more important,” said Senator Hassan. “The Defense Production Act can play a crucial role in increasing the availability of life-saving medical supplies. I am heartened to see that President Biden heeded our calls to fully use the Defense Production Act, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration and members of both parties to use every tool at our disposal to help get communities and medical professionals the resources that they need.”
Shaheen and Hassan have fought to secure urgently needed personal protective equipment for New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen previously introduced the Homeland Procurement Reform Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to increase the amount of PPE it procures from American companies. This bill, which Senator Hassan is also a cosponsor of, has bipartisan support and would ensure that the domestic supply chain for PPE is capable of supplying the critical items that FEMA and other federal agencies need during a national emergency.
Last April, Shaheen and Hassan introduced legislation that laid out a framework for an effective COVID-19 response by federalizing and adding oversight and transparency to the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment. With the state’s congressional delegation, they sent multiple letters to the Trump administration requesting rapid assistance to ensure New Hampshire health care providers have the supplies needed to address coronavirus cases the state is experiencing. In addition, Shaheen had sent a letter pressing the Trump administration for information on the distribution of critical medical supplies, including personal protective equipment. Shaheen and Hassan repeatedly called for then-President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act and introduced legislation to expedite the procurement of medical equipment, under the DPA. Specifically, Shaheen and Hassan have pushed the previous administration to fully utilize the DPA to ensure the VA has the supplies and equipment needed to protect veterans from COVID-19. This week, Shaheen and Hassan announced their support for President Biden’s plan to quickly utilize all available authorities under the DPA.