Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Coons, colleagues push to strengthen American supply chain for medical equipment, vaccine production

Letter encourages investment in Manufacturing USA, public-private partnership to support research and manufacturing

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led three of his colleagues on a push to strengthen American manufacturing to address critical needs in the American supply chain—including vaccines, diagnostic products, personal protective equipment, and intensive care tools. Specifically the lawmakers hope to bolster the Manufacturing USA network, a program including 1,900 member organizations, including community colleges, major research universities, economic development entities, and private companies. The program’s collaborations have supported more than 475 major research and development projects and more than 200,000 workers, students, and educators.

The bipartisan letter was joined by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The letter was addressed to Senator Coons’ colleagues on the Appropriations Committee including Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

“The Manufacturing USA program brings leading private, public, nonprofit, and academic organizations together to develop and commercialize advanced manufacturing technologies. The innovations these partnerships produce help support a resilient domestic supply chain and a vibrant manufacturing economy,” wrote the senators. “In the short term, we urge Congress to enlist this network to address critical needs in the American supply chain—including vaccines, diagnostic products, personal protective equipment, and intensive care tools—by providing robust supplemental funding to the program in the next relief bill.”

“After the immediate crisis has passed, we call for bold expansion of the Manufacturing USA ecosystem to facilitate robust economic recovery while simultaneously fortifying the nation against future threats,” the senators concluded.

The full letter is available here. The text is provided below.

Dear Chairmen Moran, Shelby, and Alexander and Ranking Members Shaheen, Durbin, and Feinstein:

We write to express our strong support for further activating the Manufacturing USA network in response to the public health and economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Manufacturing USA program has more than 1,900 member organizations, including community colleges, major research universities, economic development entities, and private companies.  The program’s collaborations have supported more than 475 major research and development projects and more than 200,000 workers, students, and educators. To date, the network has attracted over $2 billion in private sector support, exceeding federal investment by more than a factor of two. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act expanded and solidified the program’s mandate, reflecting the broad consensus—bolstered by recent reports from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and Deloitte—that Manufacturing USA has proven its worth as a low-risk, high-return, strategic investment in America’s industrial future. 

This resource must be leveraged during the COVID-19 crisis.  We commend the Committee for the measures it has undertaken thus far, but we respectfully submit that further steps are warranted. The Manufacturing USA program brings leading private, public, nonprofit, and academic organizations together to develop and commercialize advanced manufacturing technologies. The innovations these partnerships produce help support a resilient domestic supply chain and a vibrant manufacturing economy.  In the short term, we urge Congress to enlist this network to address critical needs in the American supply chain—including vaccines, diagnostic products, personal protective equipment, and intensive care tools—by providing robust supplemental funding to the program in the next relief bill.  After the immediate crisis has passed, we call for bold expansion of the Manufacturing USA ecosystem to facilitate robust economic recovery while simultaneously fortifying the nation against future threats.

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,

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