WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led her first hearing as Chair of the HSGAC Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight, Preparing for Future Crises: Examining the National Response Enterprise. The hearing focused on findings and recommendations from the Business Executives for National Security (BENS) Commission on the National Response Enterprise, which issued a report on challenges in the COVID-19 pandemic and ways to strengthen the national response to future crises.
You can watch Senator Hassan’s questions here.
Senator Hassan questioned General Joseph L. Votel, Ret., President and Chief Executive Officer of BENS, about ways that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could assist pandemics and cyberattacks, as the commission’s report recommends.
General Votel responded that this “would allow for a more rapid distribution and focus of resources, money, and leadership towards the problem…. Because there was some initial confusion in the early days of the pandemic and looking at it as a medical issue, the government initially focused in on medically oriented organizations… before ultimately assigning the responsibility of this to the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]. And in that time, valuable time was lost in focusing on the problems.”
Senator Hassan also asked former FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, Principal to Principal LLC Managing Partner Kristi M. Rogers, and Diveplane Corporation CEO Michael Capps, Ph.D. about how emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, could help ensure that our national emergency supplies are adequately stockpiled.
In addition, Senator Hassan questioned the witnesses about the importance of addressing the U.S. supply chain’s reliance on Chinese goods.
“Early in the pandemic, the supply chain issues regarding certain items needed amid the pandemic reinforced what many of us already knew – that the United States was overly reliant on Chinese manufactured goods,” said Senator Hassan.
Witnesses discussed the importance of strengthening the U.S. supply chain and the availability of critical supplies during emergencies.
Senator Hassan has focused on finding innovative solutions to supply chain issues. The Senator recently joined her colleagues in introducing a bipartisan bill to invest $1 billion over five years in the ability of the U.S. government to mitigate future supply chain emergencies. Senator Hassan and a bipartisan group of her colleagues recently visited the White House for a discussion on strengthening the U.S. supply chain and confronting the Chinese government with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.