As Congress anticipates passing another economic stimulus package to protect U.S. workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) would be interested in provisions that would strengthen the industrial base, he told reporters April 7.
Small- to medium-sized companies who work with the Defense Department may be particularly challenged to stay in business as the U.S. government urges non-essential workers to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, Smith said in a Tuesday teleconference call.
Meanwhile, President Trump and his administration are calling on manufacturers to pivot to developing personal protective equipment (PPE). Smith said that he would like for the new piece of legislation to help the department make advanced payments to small businesses already on contract with the department, that opt to refocus toward developing PPE.
He used the example of a Washington-state-based company dubbed Outdoor Research, which makes outdoor equipment and is on contract to make specialized cold weather gloves for U.S. Special Operations Command.
“Now, because they sew things, we’re trying to use them to make PPE,” Smith said on the call. “But … if they lose their contracts on these other things, they’re not going to be making enough money to stay in business to make the PPE.”
“So does it make sure to make sure that we move forward with contracts that were already planned a little bit quick, so that a company like that can stay in business and help us with the production that we need to deal with the COVID-19 process?” Smith continued. “That’s something I would be looking at in the next package that we’re going to put forward.”