The caucus has a significant voting bloc of 58 members, equally divided between 29 Republicans and 29 Democrats. By backing the Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act, the coronavirus legislation has a much greater chance of passage should it come to a vote on the House floor.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., the co-chair of the caucus, said it’s “critical” that the government and private sector learn from the COVID-19 crisis and better prepare for future emergencies.
“This bipartisan legislation will establish a bipartisan federal Commission to help ensure our government and industries are better prepared for the next crisis,” Gottheimer said in a statement to Fox News.
Peter Daszak (R), Thea Fischer (L) and other members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus, arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on February 3, 2021. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Problems Solvers Caucus also endorsed the formation of an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The bipartisan support materialized with 35 Republicans crossing party lines on May 19 to approve the panel in the House. The legislation, however, later died in the Senate because of a GOP filibuster.
The coronavirus commission legislation was first introduced just last week by five Democrats and five Republicans, including the two leaders of the Problem Solvers Caucus: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Gottheimer.
It would form a National Commission on United States Preparedness for National Emergencies that would be modeled after the 9/11 Commission. The panel would examine the emergency response to the pandemic, including the medical supply chains, and investigate the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak. The commission would make recommendations and states that fail to implement the emergency preparedness recommendations could lose federal funds.
“We simply cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations,” Fitzpatrick said last week in announcing the legislation. “Medical products, protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, emergency response equipment, and all other critical items and materials needed to respond to a national emergency must be produced domestically for domestic consumption, especially during a critical, time-sensitive crisis.”
The backing of an independent commission comes amid growing concerns that COVID-19 could have escaped from a Wuhan, China, laboratory rather than occurring naturally and jumping from animals to humans. The fast-spreading virus sparked a global pandemic that killed nearly 600,000 Americans.
Politicians have panned the World Health Organization (WHO) report with Chinese scientists in March that found the virus most likely originated from bats and downplayed the lab leak theory as “extremely unlikely.”