WASHINGTON – The signing into US law of the new $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill by President Joe Biden on November 15th notably includes the Make PPE in America Act.
The package was a major election campaign promise to revitalise the nation’s roads, bridges, waterways and public transport and includes $550 billion in fresh spending on physical infrastructure, $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for railways. It also provides $65 billion to expand broadband infrastructure and $55 billion for clear water investments.
“The shipping crisis has shown that our transportation infrastructure is overloaded and under-developed,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA). “As a nation, we need to make critical investments to our ports, roads, rail, and bridges today, so we can avoid a repeat of this in the future. We are also pleased that the legislation covers well-crafted procurement requirements to establish long-term opportunities for US domestic PPE production.”
“This is the first step in a long-term strategy that is critically needed to permanently onshore PPE production to ensure our nation is prepared for the next health security crisis,” said Kim Glas, president and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO). “This infrastructure package will help incentivize the reshoring of PPE production by guaranteeing long-term federal contracts and expanding Berry Amendment rules to more federal agencies’ purchases of PPE products.
“The US manufacturing industry has produced over a billion lifesaving PPE and other medical products over the last year, demonstrating that domestic textile manufacturers have the technical capabilities and existing capacity to make the United States fully sufficient in terms of our national PPE needs.
“But this sufficiency will only permanently materialise if several proper government policies are put in place that incentivize the long-term investment to bring PPE production back onshore. This will require several steps, including incentives for the private sector to purchase American-made PPE, best-value contracting principles for federal purchases and further industrial expansion efforts under the Defense Production Act for US textile and apparel production.”
According to US Meltblown, of Fort Walton, Florida, restoring America’s capacity to manufacture PPE – everything from face masks and surgical wear to medical supplies – is critical to keeping the nation’s hospitals functioning in times of crisis.
The Make PPE in America Act, it says, will require a wide range of federal agencies – including Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the Veterans Administration – to purchase American-made PPE. The bill also requires federal agencies to issue long-term contracts to U.S. manufacturers.
The company notes that America’s mask producers have recently been laying off workers because China is exporting low-quality masks to US consumers, with millions of yards of a critical component meltblown nonwovens also being imported and claims that an estimated 70% of Chinese masks fail to meet proper safety standards,
“This is not a Made in America or Made in USA rubber stamp which allows percentages of product to be made overseas,” said US Meltblown founder and CEO Robert Sires. “In the strongest sense, this new Make PPE in America Act is a mandate that the ingredients must be made in the United States,” “This seismic change is needed to ensure the supply chain physically moves and is to now be controlled within the United States. We have done our part by establishing a reliable, domestic source for this vitally important PPE material. We are asking others to do their part by purchasing PPE products from companies here in the United States, supporting the economy and better protecting American citizens.”