April 15, 2020

Van Hollen, Baldwin, Murray, Colleagues Press President Trump For Answers on Mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile

“It should not take public pleas from governors or letters from congressional delegations for states to obtain the supplies they need.”

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and 16 Senate colleagues in calling on President Trump to provide answers on his administration’s mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile, which has left states without the federal assistance and supplies they need to combat this virus and save lives. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the overall health and safety of families across the country, in every single state. Dozens of states have requested supplies from the stockpile to ensure that public health workers, emergency responders, and frontline health care workers have the personal protective equipment they need to prevent the spread of this virus and provide the highest quality patient care to those impacted. However, your Administration has failed to sufficiently respond to these requests,” wrote the senators in their letter.

“It should not take public pleas from governors or letters from congressional delegations for states to obtain the supplies they need. The stockpile was intended to support a response to a large scale disaster, and yet, as the country finds itself experiencing exactly the kind of crisis the stockpile was created to mitigate, your Administration has failed to respond with the urgency that is so clearly needed.”

In light of recent public statements, concerning changes to the stockpile’s website, and opaque distributions practices, the senators are seeking answers from President Trump to the following questions regarding the current management of the stockpile: 

  1. How is the Administration prioritizing requests from states? Who is making decisions about current distribution practices?
  2. Recent reporting indicates that Senior Advisor Jared Kushner is now charged with overseeing the distribution of supplies from the stockpile and additional supplies obtained by the federal government. What is the role of Jared Kushner and how does it interact with other established efforts, including the Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President Pence and the Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force led by Admiral Polowczyk? 
  3. Why were significant changes made to the stockpile’s website on April 3 to align with inaccurate statements made by Mr. Kushner, and who in the Administration requested that the changes be made? Is this change indicative of a larger shift in the management of the stockpile?
  4. What is the current process to replenish the stockpile and how is this coordinated with FEMA’s procurement process?
  5. How is the Administration is working to ensure that the distribution of life-saving supplies is free from political interference?

Van Hollen, Baldwin, and Murray were joined on the letter by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The full text of the letter is available here