Oct. 29 — A bill was passed by the US House of Representatives with bipartisan support, including bipartisan sponsorship, and all three West Virginia representatives voted in favor.

Is it a trick or a treat?

The Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act (HR 3635) was first introduced by Representative Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., And Representative David McKinley, RW.Va., later signed as co-sponsor. The national strategic stockpile, as described by the Department of Health and Human Services, is part of the “federal medical response infrastructure and can complement the medical countermeasures required by states, tribal nations, territories and to larger metropolitan areas during public health emergencies The supplies, drugs and life-saving devices contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term interim buffer when the immediate supply of these materials may not be available or enough. ”Think about personal protective equipment, ventilators, vaccines and medications.

If that rings a bell, it’s because the SNS was a frequent topic of conversation when the pandemic started. In March 2020, the former president repeatedly claimed to have received an “empty shelf” from the previous administration. The SNS was far from ’empty’, but it wasn’t enough to tackle the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic on its own, and there were arguments over how and how much to distribute the supplies. from the SNS to the States.

HR 3635 sets out guidelines for maintaining the SNS and distributing product to states and localities until September 2024. Arguably the three most important aspects of the bill are the requirements to replenish the stock (whatever is withdrawn must be replaced in equal measure), maintain stock (regular maintenance of equipment, do not distribute expired products) and “improve the elasticity of the medical supply chain and establish and maintain national reserves of essential medical supplies “.

McKinley said, “This legislation will not only make America safer and better prepared for future emergencies, it will strengthen American manufacturing and create good jobs.”

HR 3635 addresses a major supply chain issue. At the start of the pandemic, America’s healthcare systems faced a massive shortage, as most of the necessary supplies and equipment came from China. With the shutdown of international travel and trade to slow the transmission of the coronavirus, many healthcare workers have found themselves empty-handed.

The HR 3635 must now be replicated on a larger scale. The shortage of medical supplies is fresh on our minds because of the pandemic, but similar shortages are impacting various industries, most for the same reason: almost everything in America comes from elsewhere.

While there can be one bipartisan deal to boost domestic manufacturing of medical supplies, another can certainly be struck to boost domestic manufacturing across the spectrum. No one can argue that the pandemic has exposed the ways that outsourcing has hurt America, and no one can deny that even in a global economy, the United States must be self-sufficient when it comes to the essential. The key will be to strike a balance between corporate profits and living wages for workers.

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