Tester Presses VA to Use American-Made Medical Supplies, Reduce Reliance on Foreign Adversaries

Senator: “To best serve our veterans, VA’s health care system needs to be using American-made materials that bolster American jobs whenever possible.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with his concerns of how faulty foreign-made medical supplies made its way into VA inventory. Tester pressed VA to use American-made medical supplies whenever possible to best serve veterans, bolster American jobs, and reduce VA’s reliance on foreign adversaries’ supply chains.

“As the largest integrated health care system in the United States serving more than nine million of America’s veterans, VA needs to ensure the supplies it uses to deliver health care to veterans are safe and reliable,” wrote Tester in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “To best serve our veterans, VA’s health care system needs to be using American-made materials that bolster American jobs whenever possible. Our veterans deserve the best health care possible and that starts with reducing our reliance on foreign adversaries for medical supplies.”

In April, VA internally recalled Chinese-made syringes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flagged the supplies as potentially defective. While VA recalled the syringes, Tester pointed out that this was an example of how the Department could acquire Chinese-made medical supplies in circumvention of the Buy American Act of 1933 (BAA) and Trader Agreements Act of 1979 (TAA).

Tester underscored the importance of VA complying with these laws, writing: “These laws exist to ensure the safety and quality of medical supplies, support American job creation, and economic stability for our veterans, and to enhance national security by reducing the reliance on foreign supply chains.”

The Senator asked VA to respond to a series of questions on what steps it’s taking to ensure VA medical facilities are not buying foreign medical supplies from China or other foreign adversaries using a Government Purchase Card, including what oversight mechanisms it has in place to ensure purchases are in compliance with BAA and TAA.

Emphasizing the importance of keeping faulty foreign-made medical supplies out of VA medical centers, Tester concluded: “VA must be vigilant in its efforts to keep faulty medical supplies out of its medical centers because certain foreign manufacturers have attempted to bypass US health, safety and import laws before…Our veterans deserve and earned quality health care, which includes safe medical supplies.”

Tester is a leading advocate of increasing the use of American-made materials and jobs to support American manufacturing and reduce our reliance on foreign adversaries like China. In 2021, Tester championed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA), which included his “Buy America rule to require that all iron, steel, and construction materials used for these projects must be made in America. Tester was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to support the bipartisan infrastructure law, and was one of the lead bipartisan negotiators who crafted the package. Tester’s bipartisan infrastructure law is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families.

Read the Senator’s full letter HERE.


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