Tester, Moran Urge Top Biden Administration COVID-19 Response Officials to Prioritize Vets in Vaccine Supply Chain
(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today met with Chief Science Officer Dr. David Kessler and Chief Operating Officer General Gus Perna from the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 Response Team to discuss efforts to bolster the national supply chain to increase the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) allotment of vaccines for veterans and staff.
“As Chairman, my focus is ensuring we’ve got a system in place to distribute COVID-19 vaccines quickly and efficiently to all veterans—regardless of whether they live in Big Sandy or the Big Apple,” said Tester. “While VA has been quick to administer shots into arms once they arrive, we’ve got to bolster the national supply chain to get the Department its fair share of vaccines to reach more veterans and staff. I’ll be holding this Administration accountable to work with manufacturers to ramp up production so that more vaccines get out the door and into rural areas as quickly as possible.”
“With one million veterans vaccinated through the Department of Veterans Affairs, we have made tremendous strides in the fight against COVID-19, but we still have a long ways to go,” said Moran. “As the lead Republican on the Senate VA Committee, I will continue to work to ensure all veterans, including those in hard-to-reach places, have timely access to the COVID-19 vaccine. More shots in more arms is our best shot at ending this pandemic, and I will hold the Biden Administration accountable for the money and resources allocated by Congress for the development and distribution of vaccines across the country.”
The Biden Administration’s White House COVID-19 Response Team is responsible for coordinating across the federal government and private sector to facilitate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This Response Team is tasked with facilitating a whole-of-government response to the pandemic and coordinating the quick, safe, and efficient distribution of vaccines.
Last week, the Senators called on the Administration to officially add VA to the Defense Production Act Committee (DPAC) which advises the President on the most effective use of the Defense Production Act (DPA). Invoking the DPA gives the President broad authorities to direct domestic manufacturing industries to prioritize government orders and make products the nation needs in a time of crisis.
Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran will also lead a committee hearing tomorrow to question VA witnesses on the Department’s progress in vaccinating veterans and staff, and to discuss potential improvements in the nation’s vaccine supply chain so veterans and VA staff have what they need to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.