WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) joined U.S. Representatives Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) and Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) in introducing the Resilient Manufacturing Task Force Act of 2020, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to help build a stronger, more resilient post-COVID economy. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The legislation establishes a task force to identify critical vulnerabilities in existing U.S. supply chains and develop a plan for a National Manufacturing Guard, a volunteer organization of American experts from across the private sector, which will train for supply chain and other manufacturing emergencies.
“One of the things COVID-19 has revealed about our economy is that we are vitally reliant on countries like China for critical supplies – whether it’s medical devices like ventilators or pharmaceuticals,” Senator Coons said. “We have a responsibility to address these vulnerabilities now and build an economy that is better prepared to withstand future threats. This bipartisan, bicameral bill is an important step toward ensuring American manufacturing is resilient and can build back stronger after this recession.”
“The industrial capacity of a nation still matters, and Congress must take action to restore resilience to the American economy,” Senator Rubio said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed significant gaps in American productive capacity, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Resilient Manufacturing Task Force Act to identify vulnerabilities and supply chain risk in U.S. manufacturing and to develop plans to mitigate them. As China continues its pursuit to dominate critical industries and undermine U.S. economic and national security, it is clear that we need a 21st century pro-American industrial policy, and this bipartisan legislation is a significant step towards that effort.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed key vulnerabilities in the U.S. economy,” said Congresswoman Stevens. “I remember calling Mayors and Township Supervisors in my district in the early days of the pandemic who were doing anything and everything in their power to secure personal protective equipment for their communities. Frontline workers, from nurses to grocers, faced similar challenges, while hospitals around the country scrambled to find desperately-needed medical equipment like ventilators. Michigan’s incredible manufacturers stepped up to meet the industrial call to action, and recover our supply chains through their ingenuity and ability to make anything. For the sake of our national security and ability to strengthen Buy American content while avoiding future supply chain disruptions, Congress must pass the Resilient Manufacturing Task Force Act, which I am introducing today. By bringing together the leading experts across government, industry, and academia we have the opportunity to enhance our supply chain, play to the tremendous strengths of our nation, and recover from future disruptions.”
“It’s clearer now more than ever the United States must ensure the integrity and strength of our critical supply chains – without relying on foreign actors like China,” said Congressman Balderson. “This legislation will help identify vulnerabilities within our domestic manufacturing supply chains, ensuring the vitality of U.S. resources and infrastructure in the event of future emergencies.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the need for a comprehensive and coordinated effort to boost our domestic manufacturing capacity so that we can more effectively respond to pandemics and other emergencies,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill will help to identify and address deficiencies in U.S. supply chains, which in turn can expand job opportunities and strengthen our emergency response capabilities.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the vulnerabilities within our supply chains for everyday goods, lifesaving drugs, and medical equipment,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation would ensure we have the resources and infrastructure in place ahead of a future public health emergency.”
Both the task force and the planned National Manufacturing Guard will leverage the expertise of existing resources like the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers and the Manufacturing USA Institutes—many of which, like the Delaware-based National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), have already sprung into action to address the COVID-19 crisis. While the bill emphasizes vulnerabilities highlighted by COVID-19, the task force will aim to build resilience against a wide range of circumstances, including pandemics, natural disasters, and global trade disruptions.
In a recent letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Coons and his colleagues warned, “If we fail to learn from the current crisis, we remain vulnerable to the next one. Around the world, the countries that best weathered COVID-19 have been those who faced similar threats in the past—SARS, MERS, H1N1—and learned from the experience. [The Resilient Manufacturing Task Force] is an essential first step toward inoculating the nation’s industrial pillars against the dangers of participation in the modern global economy.”
The text of the bill is available here. This legislation has been endorsed by the American Small Manufacturers Coalition and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.