Congressman Brian Higgins announced passage of H.R. 3635, the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act of 2021, which provides federal funding to help maintain and expand the nation’s reserve of medical supplies and equipment for use during public health emergencies.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will not be an isolated event, and our country must be prepared for the next challenges as they come,” Higgins said. “We saw, with great urgency, our lack of preparedness by the shortages of basic necessities in 2020 as our first responders and other essential workers struggled to manage the risks faced to themselves and our community due to the pandemic. Investments like those made through this bill will better prepare us for the next challenge when it arises and continue to support our frontline workers.”
To help strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile, the bill authorizes $4 billion each year through 2024 for new programs that would provide states with grant funding to maintain and expand their stockpiles, while also providing funding to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the purpose of improving the supply chain and increasing the supply of critical emergency equipment.
The bill also includes $705 million annually through 2024 to help HHS manage and maintain the Strategic National Stockpile as it works to inspect, increase and transfer supplies, including the implementation of new processes to use and distribute national stockpile products.
Higgins, an advocate for greater national planning and preparedness, introduced the U.S. Infectious Disease Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Act last year, which would create an independent agency within the HHS charged with preparing for, monitoring and responding to pandemics. In December, Higgins announced House approval of a COVID-19 disaster relief package that worked to provide families, businesses and communities with relief, and included $3 billion to fortify the strategic national stockpile.