March 20, 2020

KENNEDY: DEPLOY "MANUFACTURING USA" NETWORK TO HELP ADDRESS ACUTE MEDICAL SUPPLY SHORTAGE

Health systems in MA and across the country suffering from acute lack of PPE, ventilators and other life-saving equipment in face of COVID-19

Newton, MA -- Congressman Joe Kennedy III today called on the Administration and its Coronavirus Task Force to immediately deploy the United States' existing federal manufacturing network -- "Manufacturing USA" -- to help produce and distribute life-saving medical equipment and supplies in response to COVID-19.

Six years ago, Kennedy authored legislation to create a national network of domestic manufacturing centers. Signed into law by President Obama, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act has since created 14 Centers across the country that focus on critical manufacturing innovation from 3D printing to functional fabrics -- which could potentially be utilized for the creation of everything from masks to ventilators.

Kennedy wrote: "As a federally-subsidized program with robust private partnership, I believe the Network is uniquely poised to assist the full-scale domestic manufacturing mobilization this crisis demands. I was heartened to see President Trump finally invoke the Defense Production Act. However, to fully utilize those authorities we need to do more than urge private industry to assist. We need to deploy federal resources, federal dollars, federal incentives, and a federal mandate to spark the production we need."

He continued: "We have no more time to wait or to start from square one. We must use the technology, talent, and resources most accessible to us in this moment, and Manufacturing USA is an unparalleled example of the tools at our immediate disposal."

About Manufacturing USA: 

Manufacturing USA® comprises 14 national Centers for Manufacturing Innovation. Each Center is a unique public-private partnership, jointly funded by government and private industry, focused on a different advanced manufacturing technology area but working toward the same high-level goal: to secure America's future through manufacturing innovation, education, and collaboration. Centers connect member organizations, work on major research and development collaboration projects to solve industry's toughest challenges, and train people on advanced manufacturing skills.

Today institute headquarters are located in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, New York, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Within these 14 Centers, the Manufacturing USA Annual Report for FY 2018 indicated there are over 1,900 members participating in the program including over 1,200 industry members, more than 70 percent of which are small businesses. Workforce efforts associated with Manufacturing USA institutes reached over 200,000 individuals including workers, students, and educators.

The full text of Congressman Kennedy's letter is here:

March 20, 2020 

The Honorable Deborah Birx
Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Ambassador Birx,

I am writing with an urgent request regarding our ongoing response to the global pandemic of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

In 2014, Congress authorized the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) (P.L. 113-235). Located within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the network now known as Manufacturing USA includes regionally-based Centers for Manufacturing Innovation institutes, each a partnership among higher education, community colleges, and small and large manufacturers, all working together to tackle the next advanced manufacturing challenge. Now comprised of 14 regionally-based Centers, the challenges being tackled include everything from additive manufacturing (3D printing), functional fabrics, robotic technologies, biofabrication, biopharmaceuticals, and digital manufacturing technologies among others.

In this time of critical need, I ask you to redirect the mission, talent, technology, and resources of the Manufacturing USA network to our country's COVID-19 response and immediately utilize the expertise of Centers across the country for the production and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and any other essential medical supplies needed to combat this threat.

As a federally-subsidized program with robust private partnership, I believe the Network is uniquely poised to drive the full-scale domestic manufacturing mobilization this crisis demands. I was heartened to see President Trump finally invoke the Defense Production Act. However, to fully utilize those authorities we need to do more than urge private industry to assist. We need to deploy federal resources, federal dollars, federal incentives, and a federal mandate to spark the production we need.

We have no more time to wait, to stand up new manufacturing processes, or to start from square one. We must use the technology, talent, and resources most accessible to us in this moment, and Manufacturing USA is an unparalleled example of the tools at our immediate disposal.

With institute headquarters located in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, New York, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, network members span across the country and have already operationalized collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Within these 14 Centers, the Manufacturing USA Annual Report for FY 2018 indicated there are over 1,900 members participating in the program including over 1,200 industry members, more than 70 percent of which are small businesses. Workforce efforts associated with Manufacturing USA institutes reached over 200,000 individuals including workers, students, and educators.

This is the exact kind of federal manufacturing infrastructure this moment demands. Beyond the technology and resources, the Network (and NIST) can serve as a clearing house among public and private entities navigating crisis response. With the situation evolving rapidly, the flow of information, coordination of effort, and understanding of resources is more critical than ever. NIST has the ability to understand resources within the federal government, but also work directly with the private sector to leverage those federal resources.

Congress stands ready to work with you. We stand ready to assist NIST and the Executive Branch as you work to deploy these impressive assets towards solutions for this devastating pandemic. I appreciate your prompt attention and consideration of this request. 

Sincerely, 

Joseph P. Kennedy, III
Member of Congress

CC: Dr. Walter G. Copan, Director of NIST

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