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House GOP Demand Dems Hold Hearing on “Threat” of China to U.S. Medical Supplies

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House Republicans are demanding that Oversight Committee Democrats schedule a hearing to address the “threat” of U.S. reliance on China for medical supplies, according to the Washington Examiner.

In a letter addressed to Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), 14 Republican members of the committee write that the Wuhan coronavirus “has highlighted a critical threat to the domestic supply of life saving prescription drugs. Too many supply chains for our most critical medicines and medical devices are too dependent on China.”

The letter says the U.S. relies “heavily” on China and stated that the “COVID-19 outbreak resulted in alarming shortages in the United States.”

As reported last week, the White House is working on a “Buy American” executive order which could end U.S. reliance on foreign-made medical supplies. The executive order is expected to be announced this week.

White House trade policy adviser Peter Navarro discussed the executive order with CNBC today:

“What I can speak to is this broader, interesting issue of how dependent the United States of America is on the global supply chain, not just for its medicines but for its medical supplies and medical equipment,” Navarro said.

“The essence of the order … is to bring all of that home so that we don’t have to worry about foreign dependency,” he said, adding that 70% of the ingredients used in advanced pharmaceuticals “comes from abroad.”

The increased demand for medical face masks due to the coronavirus, for example, demonstrates the challenges of relying on foreign supply chains, Navarro argued.

The departments of Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Defense buy significant amounts of medical equipment, Navarro noted. 

“We need to have them buy that from American producers on American soil,” he said.

Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) told the Washington Examiner, “The Chinese have been attacking America on multiple fronts for far too long to allow our critical healthcare supply chain to be utterly dependent on them. We need to look into this for options immediately.”

In an interview last week, Navarro told the New York Times, “China has managed to dominate all aspects of the supply chain using the same unfair trade practices that it has used to dominate other sectors — cheap sweatshop labor, lax environmental regulations and massive government subsidies. As President Trump has said, what we need to do is bring those jobs home so that we can protect the public health and the economic and national security of the country.”

Navarro also said the executive order would cover over 400 “essential medicines” that “satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.”

In recent years, China supplied 90 percent of America’s antibiotics and 70 percent of acetaminophen and most drug manufacturing has moved overseas.The disease also threatens the production of approximately 150 prescription drugs, including some without an alternative on the market, according to Axios.

Photos by Getty Images

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