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Wyden, Merkley Applaud President Biden for Distributing Free Masks; Urge Federal Officials to Prioritize Purchase & Distribution of American-Made Masks

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week joined Senate colleagues to urge President Joe Biden and congressional officials to prioritize the purchase of masks made in the U.S. with U.S. materials.

“Purchasing NIOSH approved N95 respirators and other high-quality masks, such as FDA-authorized surgical masks, made by American workers here in the U.S. advances our shared goals for supporting domestic manufacturing and ensuring a more reliable, consistent supply chain for these essential products. Doing so not only helps to prevent further loss of life, keep our kids in school, and ensure our economy remains open, but it will also ensure that the United States maintains a robust PPE manufacturing capacity so that we are never again in a situation where we must be dependent on foreign-made products, like we were in the early days of the pandemic,” Wyden, Merkley and their fellow senators wrote in their letter to the President.

“We write to share our frustration with the decision to provide members of the U.S. House of Representatives with KN95 masks made in China. We strongly urge you to take clear steps that ensure future mask purchases and orders for other essential products and personal protective equipment (PPE) prioritize products made in the U.S. using U.S. materials made by American workers,” the senators wrote in their letter to the Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton and Secretary of the Senate Sonceria Ann Berry.

The letter follows Wednesday’s announcement by President Biden that he is following through on his commitment to provide hundreds of millions of high-quality masks at no-cost to Americans, and that the first distribution of masks will come as soon as next week from masks that are currently housed in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). Brown and Baldwin’s letter urges the President to ensure future purchases – including those to replenish the SNS and those to support access to free masks for children – prioritize masks made in the U.S. with U.S. materials.

Click here to view the letter sent to President Biden, and click here to view the letter sent to the Architect of the Capitol and Secretary of the Senate, which buys COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) for distribution to Congressional offices.

Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., led the letters. Along with Wyden and Merkley, the following senators joined the letter to the President Biden: Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Along with Wyden and Merkley, the Brown/Baldwin-led letter to the Architect of the Capitol and Secretary of the Senate, was joined by Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

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