Senate Democrats Obstruct Bipartisan Legislation to Address Shortage of Respirators and Face Masks During Coronavirus Outbreak

Senate Democrats blocked bipartisan legislation to address the shortage of respirators and face masks as concerns about coronavirus continue to grow.

The bill, which was obstructed on Thursday, would have increased access to “vitally-needed respirators,” according to Senate Republicans.

Sponsored by Republican Senator Deb Fischer and Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the bill would amend the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act to address the shortage and ensure that all respirators certified by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “are eligible for the same federal liability protections as other medical products, vaccines, and drugs.”

“The Senate had an opportunity to act quickly and pass my bipartisan bill to address the shortage of respirators facing our country during this coronavirus outbreak. As a result of the objection from Senate Democrats, the health and safety of our health care providers and first responders is at risk. I will continue to seek a way forward for this critical legislation,” Fischer said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Democrats on Twitter for blocking the bill.

“[Fischer’s] bipartisan PREP Act would expand medical professionals’ access to vitally-needed respirators and create certainty for mask manufacturers,” McConnell tweeted. “It is not controversial. The Senate could have passed it today. But Senate Democrats refused to let it move forward.”

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