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Steve Daines Urges Trump to Use ‘Executive Powers’ to End U.S. Reliance on Chinese Drugs

An employee works on a production line manufacturing drugs at the Yangtze River Pharmaceutical Group in Taizhou, Jiangsu Province, China, September 3, 2019. (Stringer/Reuters)

Senator Steve Daines (R., Mont.) asked President Trump to use “executive powers and existing authorities” as part of an effort to reinforce domestic pharmaceutical supply chains in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus.

“Moving forward, it is important that we incentivize innovation and the development of essential medical supplies and equipment in the U.S. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Daines wrote in the Friday letter, adding that “ceding this position of global leadership to China” would “impair our ability to combat the current or future public health crises.”

The outbreak of the coronavirus has prompted a backlash against U.S. reliance on Chinese supply chains. Experts warn that “thousands” of American drugs are sourced in China and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called it “the cruelest irony” that the country relies on China for personal protective equipment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear how relying upon China for medicine or essential medical equipment is detrimental to our national security and endangers public health . . . this provides the authoritarian and communist Chinese government with unacceptable influence within our medical supply chains.” Daines warns.

Daines, who asked the State Department last week to investigate the Chinese government for covering up the initial outbreak, is not the first U.S. lawmaker to criticize the country’s dependence on Chinese manufacturing for certain prescription drugs and other medical supplies. Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) introduced a bill in February to give the FDA more oversight over medical supply chains, while Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) proposed a bill in March that would grant federal financing guarantees to American medical-supply companies with production in the U.S.

Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) also called on House leadership to take action on the issue, citing bipartisan concerns and suggesting last month that prospective coronavirus legislation should utilize directives from the Department of Defense to prioritize American medical and drug manufacturing at China’s expense.

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