Shortages of key goods during the coronavirus pandemic revealed America's dangerous dependence on foreign countries.
- Shortages during the
coronaviruspandemic show the danger of US companies reliance on supply chains in foreign countries.
- To ensure that this issue does not become a threat to our economic or national security, Congress need to study just how much of a problem these interwoven supply chains could be.
Tim Ryanis a Democrat representing Ohio's 13th congressional district in the US House. David McKinleyis a Republican representing West Virginia's 1st congressional district in the US House.
Many Americans were shocked to find that the largest and most advanced
US companies depend on global suppliers too oftenRecent shortages of medical supplies and equipment are just one example of the risks we face due to US reliance on other countries for making many of our critical products.
We rely on
Supply chain security and stability are necessary components of a prosperous manufacturing sector. The manufacturing sector already contributes $2 trillion annually to the US economy. The sector also drives innovation, receiving more than 90% of new patents annually. US manufacturers are essential to ensuring our national defense and homeland security, as they provide the tools, equipment, systems, and protective gear for our military and first responders.
Shifting supply chains threaten US securityBut this critical sector is hampered by uncertainty around their overseas suppliers. Manufacturing companies must depend on reliable supply chains to be successful — they need to get the right products to the right place at the right time. Dependable and high-quality suppliers are crucial assets to any manufacturing company. Critical supply chains are those where substantial harm would come to US economic security, national defense, or way of life if the supply chains were compromised or no longer available. Advertisement
Imagine if the US could no longer obtain key life-saving medications, rare materials needed to make cell phones work, components for military aircraft or space satellites, precision equipment necessary for scientific study and breakthroughs, or equipment and technologies for power generation and storage. These risks and potential disruptions have been considered in the past but were largely discounted or not considered as primary drivers for business decisions.
With the future of our country's economy and workforce in mind, we urge our colleagues in Congress to charter a Commission on Critical Supply Chains to study these issues and risks in depth and to make specific policy recommendations to the US Congress.This commission would be an independent entity that brings together national experts in a highly visible forum to give guidance on several complex and strategically important policy issues, including:Advertisement
- How can we predict future supply chain disruptions?
- What can we do now to reduce future vulnerabilities and risks?
- Can we make the supply chain resilient enough to protect our needed capabilities and resources?
The Commission's recommendations and the answers to these and other questions will provide a foundation for Congressional debate so that consensus policies can be developed.
The COVID-19 crisis has been a terrible tragedy for our country and the world. Allowing our nation and the US Congress to go back to business as usual would be a disservice to the American people. This is a wakeup call for the United States.If we don't take the time now to fix the shortcomings exposed in our national manufacturing strategy, the next crisis—whether it's a pandemic, a war, or something else—may not afford us another a chance.Advertisement
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