Written by Michael Goot in The Post-Star on March 23, 2020

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said President Donald Trump should direct companies to produce personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

Last Wednesday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, which allows him to order that manufacturers make certain equipment necessary for the nation to deal with a crisis. He has not yet compelled companies to do so, however, despite the calls of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials, because Trump says companies are doing so voluntarily.

Cuomo and other governors have said that, without the federal intervention, they are being forced to compete against each other for the critical supplies, which pushes up prices. The federal government could control the distribution of supplies, sending them where they are needed most, and control prices.

“Our health care personnel are working overtime to save lives. We must work together to step up as a nation to meet this unprecedented challenge,” Stefanik said in a news release. “I believe President Trump should take action under the Defense Production Act to meet our nation’s needs during this national emergency.”

Stefanik seeks stop to medical purchases from China

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, is a cosponsor of the Protecting our Pharmaceutical Supply from China Act, which would prohibit federal agencies from making drug and medical device purchases from the country over a two-year phase-in and provide incentives to manufacture pharmaceuticals and devices in the United States.

The legislation would prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense from making these purchases. It would also take precautions to track active pharmaceutical ingredients.

“The time has come for Congress to take serious action to move United States pharmaceutical production out of China. We have become far too dependent on China, and it is time that we equip our domestic pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to be able to efficiently produce these items here in the United States,” Stefanik said in a news release. “Creating this transparency in the supply chain should bring security not only to our pharmaceutical supply chain, but also to the American people who rely on their products for their own personal health needs.”

Covering nontraditional workers

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, was among a bipartisan group of representatives that sent a letter to Senate officials, asking for financial support for small businesses and their employees who may not be covered by unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 crisis.

Freelance employees and independent contractors may not be covered by unemployment insurance. Also, small businesses need to have cash flow to remain operational and pay their employees, according to a news release.

The letter urges the Senate to:

“Small businesses are the backbone of our North Country economy, and they must be protected during this unprecedented crisis,” Stefanik said in a news release.

Help for veterans

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, is sponsoring legislation to continue educational benefits for veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the current GI Bill, veterans, spouses and dependents only receive half of the authorized housing allowance for online classes rather than the full amount for in-person classes. With on-campus classes suspended across the country because of the coronavirus, veterans risk losing hundreds of dollars in benefits per month.

“During this unprecedented time, veterans utilizing the GI Bill should not lose any of the benefits they have earned from selflessly serving our country,” she said in a news release.

State help sought for small businesses

Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, is backing legislation to provide relief to small businesses.

The Assembly minority has unveiled the Small Business Emergency Recovery Act of 2020, which would:

“During these troubling times it is important we provide assistance to our local small businesses and their employees in any way we can,” Stec said in a news release. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and are crucial to our upstate communities. Many of our residents rely on these businesses being open and their goods and services readily available.”

Reach Michael Goot at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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