GOP lawmaker touts bill prohibiting purchases of drugs made in China

Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherBipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader 20,000 Afghan evacuees housed at military bases in five states: report Absent Democrats give Republicans new opening on Afghanistan MORE (R-Wis.) touted his bill that would prohibit the federal government from purchases of drugs made in China in an interview Tuesday.

Gallagher told Hill.TV that he partnered with Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE (R-Ark.) to draft the bill that would ban the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, among other federal agencies, from purchasing drugs from China. The bill was introduced earlier this month.

The bill would also mandate the Food and Drug Administration to track Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) and inform lawmakers if the U.S. is dependent on supplies from a foreign county. 

The lawmaker said the legislation would intend to incentivize the private sector over time to manufacture those drugs in the U.S. 

The Wisconsin Republican pointed to the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S.’s dependence on China for drugs as reasoning for his bill.

“This was a huge mistake,” he said.

“I think we need to look at how we reduce that vulnerability and start shifting that supply chain in the future so we don’t find ourselves in a similar situation,” he added. 

Gallagher also responded to critics of the bill, specifically free market supporters, who say limiting purchasing to within the U.S.  would threaten to raise costs.

“Well, efficiency, I think, needs to be balanced against survival,” he said, adding “A short-term efficiency might lead to a long-term loss.”

He argued that if the U.S. had invested a smaller amount like testing and domestic manufacturing, “we wouldn’t be paying trillions upon trillions of dollars to get ourselves out of this mess.”