U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo announced Friday a bipartisan bill to restructure the Strategic National Stockpile, called the “Stockpile Inventory Modernization Act of 2020,” so the agency can be allowed to make sales of existing expired products to more federal agencies.

Eshoo, who represents portions of portions of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, is sponsoring the act with U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana to “give the SNS additional flexibility and stretch taxpayer dollars further so that we can respond to the current pandemic and be prepared for the next,” Eshoo said in a statement.

The legislation would open the stockpiles of products, including expired products the SNS is currently not allowed to sell, to other federal agencies that would benefit from receiving the products.

Eshoo, who is also chairwoman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, said:

“The current Covid-19 emergency has demonstrated that the SNS plays a critical role in our nation’s response to a public health event, but the pandemic has also highlighted the need for long overdue improvements to the way SNS operates.”

The act comes forward at a time when local health care offices throughout the country run short on crucial personal protective equipment — such as N95 masks, face shields and surgical gowns — for medical staff treating patients infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Schepers Members of the Maryland Air National Guard 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron work with members of the Maryland Office of Preparedness and Response March 19, 2020, to prepare and load medical supplies and equipment at the Maryland Strategic National Stockpile location. All assets provided were prioritized for health care workers and hospitals in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The act could potentially help SNS keep up to date on its inventory and also recover partial investments on products that would otherwise be destroyed after expiry, according to the congresswomen.

Brooks said:

“When another federal agency has a need for a product stockpiled on the SNS’ shelves, the agency can engage in an agreement with the SNS to purchase that product.”

Brooks added:

“This will have the dual effect of saving American taxpayers’ money, by allowing other agencies to purchase at a discount, while also allowing the SNS to keep the supplies on its shelves.”

Eshoo and Brooks also co-chair the Congressional Biodefense Caucus.

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