Rep. Josh Gottheimer Wants Commission to Prepare for Next National Emergencies

Bipartisan legislation to investigate how the government in partnership with private industry can be better prepared for the next national emergency like COVID-19 has Rep. Josh Gottheimer as one of its primary cosponsors. 

The legislation authorizes the creation of a National Commission on United States Preparedness for National Emergencies, modeled on the 9/11 Commission that investigated how to improve U.S. security after the attacks on New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC.

“Right now, we are seeing how a major public health emergency is impacting every part of our country—from workers and families, to businesses of all sizes, to resources our residents and healthcare workers need to survive,” stated Gottheimer, whose district Bergen County has been heavily hit by COVID-19.

Improving Responsiveness

The Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act focuses on ensuring the U.S. is taking the necessary steps to mitigate the impacts of future national emergencies, improve responsiveness, and save lives, according to Gottheimer.

The commission would look at the national emergency response by the U.S. government and private sector to the coronavirus pandemic and provide recommendations to the President on goods essential to a national emergency response that must be manufactured in the U.S.

“Moving forward, our government and private sector will need to learn from this crisis, assess the gaps, and better prepare for future national emergencies,” the two-term congressman stated.

U.S. Production

To ensure federal procurement supply chains are more self-sufficient and rely on domestic sources of production, the bill mandates federal agencies responsible for responding to national emergencies procure essential supplies—like medication and personal protective equipment—from domestic sources by 2025. 

The proposed legislation specifically wants goods procured by the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services, along with the Centers for Disease Control and National Institute of Health, manufactured by U.S. businesses, allowing the national supply chain and domestic stockpile to become more reliant on U.S. manufacturing.

States Losing Funding

States failing to implement the findings of the commission’s report by 2025 would lose access to federal funds designated for emergency preparedness, unless DHS can certify the state is working in good faith to implement the findings of the commission. States would be required to be recertified every fiscal year.

“We simply can’t rely on the rest of the world to build our ventilators, supply our medicine, and construct our masks and gowns,” said Gottheimer. “This bipartisan legislation will establish a…federal Commission to help ensure our nation’s government and industries are better prepared for the next crisis.”

To help incentivize businesses and manufacturers to come into compliance with the federal procurement requirements and encourage domestic production, the proposed law would allow immediate expensing for firms that incur costs associated with expanded pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing within the U.S. determined by the commission to be necessary.

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