Senate Democrats block bipartisan bill to increase access to respirators

For reasons that are not yet clear, Senate Democrats blocked a bipartisan piece of legislation meant to address a shortage of respirators and masks for healthcare workers to use while interacting with patients infected with the coronavirus, Breitbart reported.

Dems block bipartisan bill

At issue was an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act that was put forward by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to specifically address the impending shortage of respirators and face masks that are now in high demand for healthcare workers.

According to a press release from Fischer’s office, the PREP Act allows for the federal government to extend limited liability protection to the distributors and manufacturers of various pieces of equipment and products that can used as countermeasures to a disease during a public health crisis, like the current coronavirus outbreak.

For some reason, respirators that are certified and governed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) were not already eligible for the liability protections offered by the PREP Act, an oversight that Fischer and Sinema sought to correct.

“The Senate had an opportunity to act quickly and pass my bipartisan bill to address the shortage of respirators facing our country during this coronavirus outbreak,” Fischer said in a statement.

“As a result of the objection from Senate Democrats, the health and safety of our health care providers and first responders is at risk. I will continue to seek a way forward for this critical legislation,” she added.

Republican lawmakers outraged

In response to the block by Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to Twitter to post a video of Fischer speaking about her bill.

[email protected]’s bipartisan PREP Act would expand medical professionals’ access to vitally-needed respirators and create certainty for mask manufacturers,” he wrote. “It is not controversial.”

“The Senate could have passed it today. But Senate Democrats refused to let it move forward,” McConnell added.

Similarly, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) called the Democratic blockade of the bill “outrageous,” and even President Trump shared a few tweets from others calling out the inexplicable move by Senate Democrats during a time of crisis.

Partisan gamesmanship

It is unknown why Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) chose to block the bill from Fischer and Sinema from moving forward, especially in light of the fact that it was a bipartisan effort to address an apolitical problem that could potentially place lives at risk.

Sadly, it seems like some Democrats are simply incapable of placing politics to the side for even a moment and must seize every opportunity — even in the midst of a public health crisis — to try and one-up their opponents.

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