A bill by two progressive Congressional Democrats would provide the federal government with $75 billion to produce or purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical devices to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) are co-sponsoring the bill, which aims to provide the money to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to require manufacturers to produce or allow the agency to purchase PPE, ventilators and other supplies and devices needed by the states to address COVID-19.
The funding could be used for testing reagents and compounds; approved vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, certain pharmaceutical ingredients and other necessary drugs; supplies needed to administer drugs, vaccines, medical devices and diagnostic tests; and hospital infrastructure.
The proposed bill emphasizes that the federal response should apply to requests from all states “to the greatest extent possible and with due urgency, according to need.” President Donald Trump has said that some states, including hard-hit New York and New Jersey, have been asking for more pandemic-related federal help than they need.
“It is unacceptable that the president still has not utilized the Defense Production Act to aggressively demand that the private sector manufacture the equipment and products that our medical personnel, patients, and frontline workers desperately need,” Sanders told CBS News.
Khanna told the network that he spoke with both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. He said the bill is not partisan, but an act of “good faith” that would provide the president with significant funding, CBS reported.
The Senate returned to session today, although the bill was not on its calendar for introduction this morning. It is unclear when it would be introduced in the House, which is currently not in session due to rising coronavirus cases in Washington, D.C.