A new congressional task force on defense supply chain vulnerabilities has been created to prepare legislative solutions to include in the annual defense policy bill. The task force’s co-chairs Reps. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. announced the formation of the task force on Wednesday in response to President Biden’s recent order for detailed supply chain analysis.
The co-chairs reported they would work closely with the Department of Defense and defense officials to evaluate defense supply chains' weaknesses. “This is built to be [ready] in the three months leading up to the real meat and potatoes of (drafting the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act), so that we aren’t waiting another year,” commented Slotkin.
The coronavirus pandemic illustrated fragilities in America’s defense, commercial, and especially medical supply chains. This greatly worried many defense officials and government leaders. Slotkin was particularly concerned when Chinese authorities delayed a shipment of medical supplies last year.
The task force has made no recommendations yet. However, lawmakers stressed the need to evaluate U.S. dependencies on foreign imports such as semiconductors, rare-earth minerals and battery technology with uses in the defense and commercial sectors. Also, lawmakers will study any medical supply chains that might be vulnerable.
Possible solutions to supply chain problems might involve reshoring critical U.S. manufacturing through competitive incentives for businesses. Another possibility is to make future vital supply chain purchases from historically strong U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom.
“The trick is really just finding that right balance between what capabilities we absolutely must be able to make in the USA, what we can buy from our close allies and what we can afford to source from broader networks of partners,” added Gallagher.
The task force will operate for three months and has the option to continue for another three months. Apart from the co-chairs, the members are Reps. Donald Norcross, D-N.J.; Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa.; Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J.; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; Michael Waltz, R-Fla. and Stephanie Bice, R-Okla.