WASHINGTON, D.C. July 28, 2020 – As COVID-19 infections continue to surge across America and nearly 30 states impose public mask-wearing requirements, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Tuesday joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and over three dozen of their Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House in introducing lifesaving legislation to manufacture and distribute high-quality, reusable masks to everyone in America.
Along with Harris and Sanders, the Masks for All Act is cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Doug Jones (D-AL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) introduced the Masks for All Act in the House, with more than two dozen cosponsors.
“The fact is, this administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a failure,” said Harris. “Its inaction when it comes to fully implementing the Defense Production Act and preparing our country’s stockpile of protective equipment and supplies, including masks, has been disastrous and deadly. Congress must put forth solutions that can make an immediate difference and get resources to the communities most in need. I am proud to join my colleagues on this legislation to ensure every person in the United States has access to the protective gear they need to fend off this virus.”
“We are the only high-income country in the world where infections and deaths are skyrocketing instead of falling. Nearly 150,000 are dead and 1,000 more are dying every day. That is an absolute scandal,” said Sanders. “Dozens of my colleagues and I are proposing that we do what our public health experts and scientists say we must do. This is not a political or partisan issue. Providing all of our people with high-quality, reusable masks without cost could save tens of thousands of lives and avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in economic harm.”
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In addition, the legislation provides pick-up sites for additional masks at convenient community locations that are already providing essential services, such as Post Offices, pharmacies, schools, public transportation stations, and COVID-19 testing sites. Finally, the bill would provide needed surgical masks and N-95 respirators to all workers in health settings. To do this, the Masks for All Act would use all available authorities, including the Defense Production Act.
The bill has been endorsed by the African American Health Alliance, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Association of Flight Attendants (AFA- CWA), the Arc of the United States, the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Democracy for America (DFA), First Focus Campaign For Children, Indivisible, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Little Lobbyists, Make the Road NY, Morehouse School of Medicine, MoveOn, National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), National Center for Transgender Equality, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Medical Association, National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPHMU), People’s Action, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), Public Citizen, the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Social Security Works, United We Dream, and Working Families Party (WFP).
To read a summary of the bill, click here.
To read the text of the bill, click here.