Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led on May 7 three of his colleagues on a push to strengthen American manufacturing to address critical needs in the American supply chain, including vaccines, diagnostic products, personal protective equipment and intensive care tools.

Specifically, the lawmakers hope to bolster the Manufacturing USA network, a program of 1,900 member organizations, including community colleges, major research universities, economic development entities and private companies. The program’s collaborations have supported more than 475 major research and development projects and more than 200,000 workers, students and educators.

The bipartisan letter was also joined by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado; Gary Peters, D-Michigan; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York. The letter was addressed to Coons’ colleagues on the Appropriations Committee including Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas; Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; Richard Shelby, R-Alabama; Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee; and Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

“The Manufacturing USA program brings leading private, public, nonprofit and academic organizations together to develop and commercialize advanced manufacturing technologies,” wrote the senators. “The innovations these partnerships produce help support a resilient domestic supply chain and a vibrant manufacturing economy. In the short term, we urge Congress to enlist this network to address critical needs in the American supply chain — including vaccines, diagnostic products, personal protective equipment and intensive care tools — by providing robust supplemental funding to the program in the next relief bill.”

“After the immediate crisis has passed, we call for bold expansion of the Manufacturing USA ecosystem to facilitate robust economic recovery while simultaneously fortifying the nation against future threats,” the senators concluded.

The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2SN3Xdw.