San Juan, Puerto Rico- Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón and Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation that would help boost Puerto Rico's economy and position the island as a "hub" or national production center of medical equipment and drugs.
This bicameral initiative encourages companies that are currently producing pharmaceuticals and medical devices abroad, to relocate to the U.S. “The fact that these manufacturers that produce essential health materials for the American market are not within our reach, especially in times of crisis, represents a threat to the national medical supply chain. With this bill, we seek to correct this, offering federal incentives to these companies in exchange for job creation and capital investment, so that they relocate to American soil, specifically in places with high levels of poverty, designated as "Distressed Zones," explained the Congresswoman.
Moving these large companies to places with high levels of poverty rates will translate into a large investment in the area that, eventually, would help to transition them to stronger economic zones, generating the rise of small businesses and offering well-paying jobs.
“Puerto Rico has the capacity, labor, experience, and infrastructure to become a national hub for the production of medical equipment and medicines, attracting manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies located abroad. Thus, we secure the national supply chain and boost our economy with well-paying jobs. This is my bill that I am promoting along with Senator Marco Rubio and the reason why I have brought Rear Admiral Peter Brown and a delegation from the White House to visit various pharmaceutical plants in the Island, ”explained González Colón.
"The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that we must rebuild our national manufacturing capacity, especially in our medical industry," Rubio said. "For too long, our manufacturing capabilities have moved to China, impacting communities across our country, including Puerto Rico, which was once home to a strong manufacturing industry in the United States. I am proud to join Congresswoman González-Colón in this vital effort to rebuild our manufacturing capacity, especially in the economically marginalized areas that were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. "
Since the beginning of her term, the congresswoman has supported maintaining and increasing the strength of the pharmaceutical industry on the island; Since last year, Gonzalez Colon has advocated or the domestic production of pharmaceuticals to be considered a matter of national security and has supported other bills seeking the same goal and has briefed these initiatives in meetings at White House, Congress and various economic development groups on the island.
Just before the pandemic, González Colón testified at the Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee of the federal House of Representatives, her priorities for Puerto Rico in the area of defense for fiscal year 2021, which included expanding the presence of pharmaceutical research and manufacturing on the Island as a national security issue.
Congresswoman González Colón emphasized that manufacturing must be brought back to the United States during her testimony at Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and in the China Task Force in Congress.
At the White House, she has discussed this alternative with the assistant to the President of the United States, director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and coordinator of public policies for the National Defense Production Law, Dr. Peter Navarro, who has been positive in the face of the proposal; In addition, the commissioner in talks with President Trump has announced this initiative.
In April, González Colón introduced a bill similar to the MMEDS Act, the HR 6443 “Securing the National Supply Chain Act of 2020”.
The Medical Manufacturing, Economic Development, and Sustainability Act of 2020 "(MMEDS Act) was filed in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón under HR7527. The bill was filed in U.S. Senate by Senator Marco Rubio under S. 4467.