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Lawmakers say manufacturers are in better position to handle future pandemics

Lawmakers say manufacturers are in better position to handle future pandemics
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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Thursday said lessons learned from COVID-19, particularly on the manufacturing front, will help the U.S. in the event of another pandemic.

Speaking at The Hill's "COVID-19 Vaccine and the New Era of Manufacturing" event, Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeMichigan Democrat says he sought treatment for PTSD after Jan. 6 riot Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Democrats see political winner in tax fight MORE (D-Mich.) said the country had become complacent with its production levels before the coronavirus first took hold last spring.

“The hope is that we've learned that we have to have a much greater degree of preparedness to quickly turn our manufacturing capabilities to serve our needs and not put ourselves, and this is where the supply chain issues come into play, not put ourselves where the material is not available to us,” Kildee, who is chief deputy whip of the House and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, told The Hill's Steve Clemons and Julia Manchester.

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Rep. Haley StevensHaley Maria StevensLawmakers say manufacturers are in better position to handle future pandemics Iowa Democrat quarantining after staffer tests positive for COVID-19 Democrats condemn 'lawlessness' amid Capitol chaos MORE (D-Mich.), who also spoke at the event sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers, said a vast network of partnerships between the federal government and businesses helped the U.S. overcome the initial supply chain disruptions that were caused when many businesses temporarily shut down last year.

Stevens sponsored the American Manufacturing Leadership Act (AMLA), which increased federal investment in advanced manufacturing. The bill was included in the National Defense Authorization Act in 2019, signed into law before the pandemic hit the U.S.

“I remain really enthusiastic about what we got done with the American Manufacturing Leadership Act and what we're continuing to build off of that in this present time,” Stevens said.

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Rep. Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterLawmakers say manufacturers are in better position to handle future pandemics Lawmakers grill NSA on years-old breach in the wake of massive Russian hack Hillicon Valley: WhatsApp delays controversial privacy update | Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit alleging e-book price fixing | Biden launches new Twitter account ahead of inauguration MORE (D-Ill.), a co-sponsor of the AMLA, said although the coronavirus pandemic appears to have been naturally occurring, the country and the world need to prepare for a future one that is part of biological warfare. He said policymakers need to make decisions about how to spread money wisely to be ready if a new pathogen appears.

“Making sure that that's driven by the best expert advice is really, I think, one of the things that Congress has to keep our eyes on to make sure that when you do all the wargaming of the natural or artificial pathogens that can be coming at us, that we are appropriately prepared,” Foster said.

On Friday, CNN aired an interview in which former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert RedfieldRobert RedfieldClyburn: Documents show Trump officials helped suppress coronavirus CDC reports CDC director walks tightrope on pandemic messaging Biologist Bret Weinstein says COVID-19 likely came from a lab MORE said he suspected the coronavirus originated in a lab in China. There is no hard evidence that the virus escaped from a lab, and Redfield noted that his comments are "my opinion."

Rep. Jackie WalorskiJacqueline (Jackie) R. WalorskiHouse panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations Lawmakers say manufacturers are in better position to handle future pandemics Ethics watchdog: 'Substantial' evidence GOP lawmaker improperly spent funds, misused position to help brother MORE (R-Ind.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee who's also part of the House manufacturing caucus, said at Thursday's event that the private sector leaders are the best positioned to respond to challenges like the coronavirus pandemic because they know the needs of their region and communities.

“Let's let the manufacturers do what they do best,” Walorski said. “Let's let the hospitals and all of those peripheral shareholders that have been at the table decide what else needs to happen when and where.”

In terms of persuading the public to take one of the COVID-19 vaccines, Rep. Brad WenstrupBrad Robert WenstrupLawmakers say manufacturers are in better position to handle future pandemics Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel jumps into Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Which path will Democrats take on COVID-19 bill? MORE (R-Ohio), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and part of the GOP Doctors Caucus, said he has found that he earns more trust from Americans in his role as a doctor than as a congressman. He said when he has been able to speak directly to patients about how the vaccines were tested and what their efficacy rates mean, he is more effective at convincing them to get vaccinated.

“I can always tell when I'm in uniform, people trust me,” he said. “When I'm in my white coat, people trust me. My congressional pin doesn't mean a whole lot to them as far as trust. And I get that."