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Senate Republicans and Democrats want US medical supply chain to stop relying on China

Senate Republicans and Democrats want US medical supply chain to stop relying on China

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) -- Lawmakers want to stop the US from relying on China for medical supplies.

"The health of our industrial base and its ability to support national security needs is under many severe challenges under normal times, but now the challenges are escalated,” Virginia Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine said.

Kaine and other members of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee say the U.S. needs to make more of an effort to utilize domestic resources.

"COVID has made us look at a lot of supply chain issues in different ways," Kaine said.

Iowa Republican Joni Ernst agrees and says the Department of Defense is making changes to how it uses some of its funds.

"What our DoD has received through the CARES Act and other provisions has been a very, very small sliver of what we have allocated for general support programs across the United States," Ernst said.

The DoD says it's taken many steps to utilize small business in the U.S. to support the supply .

"Over 75% of the DOD small business spending has been obligated in the medical category," DoD Under Secretary Ellen Lord said.

Lord said this includes drugs, surgical instruments and equipment, hospital clothing and more. Kaine says the DoD should continue these efforts, with more funding from Congress.

"COVID has dramatically changed the timing, the ability of folks to act in a timely fashion and it's my hope that Congress will recognize that," Kaine said.

Kaine and other senators say the next big step is learning from the country's mistakes and be more independent when facing future challenges.

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