Sen. Bob Menendez introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish a national database with information on different manufacturers in the U.S. supply chain.
The law would work to prevent future supply chain disruptions by providing manufacturers key information as they make decisions to retool in critical areas to meet demand for key products including defense supplies, medical devices, and food products.
The bicameral legislation featured sponsorship from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in the Senate and Reps. Norma Torres (D-CA) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) in the House.
“Future pandemics, natural disasters, cyber-attacks, raw material shortages, and even trade disputes could cripple our supply chains right when we need to engage them most in order to deliver critical goods to the American public,” said Menendez. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill to ensure the federal government has a critical tool that could give us reliable information about American manufacturers’ capabilities and inventories in order to prevent future disruptions should a future crisis arise.”
“This legislation will help bring needed transparency to manufacturers and businesses struggling to get their supply chains back on track. It will also keep states at the forefront of the conversation to ensure that states like Tennessee that lead the nation in manufacturing have the data they need to make critical operational decisions,” added Blackburn.
Menendez noted the pandemic had stressed U.S. supply chains, an issue that came to the forefront in 2021.
Contending with COVID-19 Breakdowns
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep vulnerabilities in our own national supply chains that we are still dealing with as a country and that make us susceptible during moments of crisis,” said Menendez.
He argued a national overview of the U.S. manufacturing supply chain would give stakeholders the information needed to pivot as necessary to produce much-needed goods.
Additionally, he said it would fill gaps by leveraging the Hollings MEP program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create the National MEP Supply Chain Database.
Previous Support for Hollings MEP
New Jersey’s senior senator has previously supported the Hollings MEP program, and he also highlighted vulnerabilities in the country’s supply chain early in the pandemic.
The current legislation was originally proposed as an amendment to 2020’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the NDAA conference report recommended a feasibility study on the database.
After review, it was ultimately decided it was both feasible and advisable to establish a national supply chain database.
Gottheimer Calls for Action
Rep. Josh Gottheimer called for additional legislation that would ease supply chain bottlenecks and help lower costs for North Jersey families and small businesses, joining a coalition of Representatives looking for action from House leadership.
“It is imperative Congress acts to address the needs of the nation through additional action to specifically address the supply chain and resulting higher prices experienced by families across the country,” the Members wrote in a letter to House leadership. “We respectfully ask that the House swiftly considers the numerous bills written by our colleagues that will support domestic manufacturing and provide additional solutions to our supply chain crisis.”
Earlier this Fall, Gottheimer announced steps to address the supply chain issues, including critical congressional oversight and dedicated federal action from the Federal Maritime Commission and relevant authorities to investigate the practices of major ocean carriers for any collusion or anti-competitive practices.