February 04, 2021

Duckworth, Rounds Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Significantly Enhance Domestic Production of Life-saving Medical Supplies


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced bipartisan legislation today to strengthen the national response to pandemics by modernizing the production of critical medical supplies for frontline healthcare providers. The Public Health Emergency (PHE) Production Act would ensure the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fully leverages its allocation authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to respond to current and future emergencies.

“After 450,000 deaths from COVID-19—and over 100,000 Americans testing positive every day—this pandemic is far from over and it’s critical that we address the shortages of testing supplies and PPE that our frontline healthcare providers rely on,” said Duckworth. “The PHE Production Act positions HHS to increase the manufacturing of medical equipment needed to distribute life-saving vaccines, and I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with Senator Rounds to boost production and distribution of this equipment while maintaining effective oversight.”

“COVID-19 continues to be a threat to public health,” said Rounds. “Our bipartisan legislation seeks to improve coordination within the federal government by providing greater transparency, better management and the resources to rapidly respond to urgent requirements. This will give our communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic much-needed additional support during this critical time.”

Specifically, the Public Health Emergency (PHE) Production Act would:

  • Prioritize fulfillment of federal contracts for existing public health goods and services ahead of private sector orders and requiring all actions taken under Title I of the DPA to be reported to the Federal Procurement Data System by amending Title I.
  • Require the DPA fund to be fairly distributed among all federal agencies responsible for carrying out DPA efforts, especially for public health programs and establishing an interagency rotation program between HHS and the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy to strengthen interagency coordination with the DPA fund.
  • Establish a permanent “DPA Title III Program Office” in the HHS Office of the ASPR for the purposes of planning, reporting and implementing authorities to boost the manufacturing of critical public health resources that are vital to effective pandemic preparedness and response by amending Title III.
  • Require the DPA Committee to submit a monthly report to Congress during the COVID-19 national emergency on DPA COVID-19-related activities.

Last year, Duckworth repeatedly called on the previous administration to fully utilize the DPA and increase production of medical supplies. She also helped introduce a bill to increase production and add oversight and transparency to the supply chain for critical medical supplies and equipment.