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Exclusive — Sen. J.D. Vance Sounds Alarm Over Biden’s Made-in-America Screwups that Leave U.S. Vulnerable on Critical Medical Equipment

U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance is sounding the alarm on critical shortages and vulnerabilities in the supply chain to the United States for key medical personal protective equipment (PPE) that could allow the Chinese Communist Party to shut down health practice in the United States.

In a Thursday letter to Democrat President Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, Vance and other senators pressed the top Biden official on the vulnerabilities caused by Biden Administration screwups to a program that former President Donald Trump started at the beginning of the pandemic to begin making things like medical gloves in America again. Other senators who signed onto the letter, provided exclusively to Breitbart News ahead of its public release, include Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Rick Scott (R-FL).

“We write to express our concern about the state of the United States’s supply chains for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical medical supplies,” Vance and his colleagues wrote to Becerra. “Recent news investigations have revealed that American medical supply chains are as weak today as they were before the Covid-19 pandemic. Without swift action by this administration, our nation could find itself once again dependent on our adversaries for essential goods.”

A nurse wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) speaks to a collegues from inside an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while she attends to a COVID-19 patient at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California on December 18, 2020. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

As Breitbart News has previously reported, Biden administration screw-ups when it comes to making medical gloves in the United States have led to the Chinese rapidly gaining control of the market share in that industry. Vance zones in on this issue in this letter, noting that Trump had started up efforts to make the medical gloves necessary for healthcare providers in America but that Biden mishandled it.

LUANNAN, CHINA – MAY 06: An employee works on a nitrile glove production line at a factory of Zhonghong Pulin Medical Products Co., Ltd on May 6, 2022 in Luannan County, Tangshan City, Hebei Province of China. (Photo by Zhang Yongxin/VCG via Getty Images)

“President Trump implemented policies to build up domestic PPE production capacity and onshore our nation’s medical supply chains,” Vance wrote to Becerra. “He invoked the Defense Production Act to convert manufacturing facilities for PPE production. He directed the International Development Finance Corporation to lend $100 million to finance domestic PPE production and strengthen medical supply chains. He invested billions in projects to expand production facilities, expanded the national strategic stockpile (SNS), established a ‘supply chain control tower’ to monitor production and sourcing of PPE throughout the private sector, and strengthened domestic procurement policies. The Biden administration inherited these policies and programs. Rather than build on the foundation established by President Trump, this administration has attempted to start from scratch—and failed. President Biden failed to renew or replace President Trump’s executive orders with similar authorizations when they expired in 2022. Your department published a 40-page assessment of the public health supply chain and industrial base, yet it has failed to take adequate steps to ensure robust domestic PPE production.”

From there, Vance goes into detail about the glove industry. He noted that despite the Biden Administration disbursing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in investment to be able to build factories to make them domestically, none of the facilities are operational and none of the projects are completed.

“Consider the supply chain for nitrile gloves—the basic rubber gloves used by everyday doctors and nurses. In July 2021 your department, along with the Pentagon, presented a ‘safety valve ecosystem’ for nitrile gloves and related raw materials capable of producing 31 billion units (roughly 25 percent of the U.S. annual consumption) domestically. Investments made to-date have brought us no closer to achieving this goal,” Vance wrote to Becerra. “Your department’s Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response (ASPR) has invested $574 million across six companies to produce gloves and $267 million across two companies to supply a combined 180,000 metric tons of raw material. None of these companies’ facilities is operational, and none of the funded projects are complete.”

Vance then noted how Becerra has overseen the systemic weakening of the supply chain of such medical gloves—and how under his time as HHS secretary and Biden’s time as president, the U.S. dependence on China has risen significantly.

“Today, under your watch, the domestic nitrile glove supply chain is as insecure as ever,” Vance wrote. “The SNS [Strategic National Stockpile] acquired just four billion gloves for its inventory—a twelve-day supply—that are slated to expire this year. Federal agencies cannot comply with domestic procurement requirements, citing inadequate supply. The Made in America Office has issued a waiver for the purchase of 5.55 billion foreign made gloves. Our healthcare system, meanwhile, has only grown more dependent on China. At the start of the pandemic, during the first quarter of 2020, China supplied just over five percent of the nitrile gloves purchased in the United States. By the end of 2023, Chinese gloves accounted for 42.5 percent of the American market. All of the available evidence indicates that our critical medical supply chains are as weak today as they were before the pandemic. Despite billions in federal spending and investment to build out discreet production lines within the medical equipment supply chain, projects remain incomplete. The programs established the Trump administration now lie fallow under your watch. New initiatives have failed to bear fruit while China retains control of critical consumables markets.”

Vance then laid out five detailed questions for Becerra, giving the HHS secretary a deadline of April 29 to answer them.
The questions from Vance to the HHS secretary are as follows:

  1. Of the 7 contracts (6 for glove manufacturing and 1 for rubber production) issued for nitrile glove and rubber (specifically, AcryloNitrile Butadiene Rubber or NBR) manufacturing by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Pentagon in 2021, how many contracts are complete?
  2. If any contracts are complete, are those companies currently making NBR or gloves with the equipment that was purchased?
    a) How much NBR and how many gloves are being produced?
    b) What percentage of the US needs does this represent?
    c) If nothing is currently being produced, how long would it take for the “capacity” to 
become operational?
    d) Have contracts been issued to make sure the “capacity” does not fall into disrepair?
    e) If contracts have not been issued to keep the “capacity” in good working order is 
HHS simply writing off these investments?
  3. A recent waiver from the Made in America Office for the purchase of 5.5 billion gloves 
states that there is zero NBR production in the US and also not enough glove production to 
satisfy this purchase. How many gloves are currently being produced in the US?
  4. A recent memo from DHS states that there is zero NBR production and not enough glove 
production to satisfy the Make PPE in America Act purchase requirements for DHS, the VA and HHS. How many gloves per year need to be purchased under the Make PPE in America act?
  5. A November 2023 press release states that your department’s Office of Industrial Base Management and Supply Chain has invested $17B over 87 contracts to expand the domestic manufacturing industrial base. How many full-time employees does the office have managing this extensive portfolio of investments?
    a) How many of these colleagues work in your department’s complex?
    b) Are any of the colleagues are contractors? If so, how many?

Vance concludes the letter by explaining that the United States must stop depending on foreign powers for critical PPE and other items.

“The Covid-19 pandemic was responsible for some of the gravest injustices and humiliations for the United States in recent memory: from lockdowns and school closures to mask and vaccine mandates,” Vance wrote. “Such policies undermined the public trust in America’s leaders and institutions. Among the most humiliating was the fact that the communist nation responsible for unleashing this plague on the world was also profiting off supplying the tools to fight it. We must end our dependence on foreign supply chains and save ourselves from future humiliation.”

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