Kilmer Leads Bipartisan Call to Ramp Up Defense Manufacturing Capabilities in Response to Coronavirus

Tacoma, WA – Friday Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Tom Cole (OK-04), and Cheri Bustos (IL-17) led 52 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), urging them to utilize the full potential of DOD’s manufacturing base to produce much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as masks, face shields, gowns and gloves, and other medical equipment, such as ventilators.

Military installations currently lack clear direction from FEMA, who is the lead agent on this matter, on how they can use their personnel and expertise to ramp up production. Today’s letter calls on FEMA to provide installations with the authority and approval they need to produce and distribute life-saving equipment.

“I’ve heard from folks at military installations in my region who have, on their own initiative, started using the 3D printing and other technologies available at their facilities to produce critical Personal Protective Equipment needed across the country. I’m grateful for these efforts – and want to make sure they have clear authority from DOD that allows them to provide this badly needed material to medical providers and first responders in my community who are out on the frontlines combating this health crisis,” Rep. Kilmer said.

“Medical professionals across the country are in dire need of personal protective equipment as they continue to treat the critically ill and risk their health daily,” Rep. Cole said. “Adding Department of Defense’s manufacturing capabilities as a way to contribute to a whole-of-government effort to defeat COVID-19 just makes sense.”

“Military installations like the Rock Island Arsenal possess top-notch manufacturing capabilities that are poised to play a significant role in our ability to respond to COVID-19,” Rep. Bustos said. “For our nation to utilize anything less than the full extent of our manufacturing base to produce life-saving equipment is entirely unacceptable. Our men and women in uniform stand ready and able to put their expertise to use to combat this public health crisis and get critical personal protective equipment to our frontline health care workers and patients in need. We must provide them with clear instruction on how to proceed immediately.”

“COVID-19 does not recognize fence lines and we believe our country needs a ‘one community’ approach that links bases and communities together to manage response and recovery. For this approach to truly be effective, installation leaders need to have clear guidance that partnering with communities through this crisis is not only allowed but is imperative. Installations that have the capacity to produce PPE should be allowed to do so and to distribute to communities in need,” said Joe Driskill, President, Association of Defense Communities.

By:  Ben Sclair
Source: The Suburban Times