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Representative Darin LaHood

Representing the 18th District of Illinois

Congressional Trade Leaders Call on China to Stop Unnecessary Delays Exporting COVID-19 Testing Supply to U.S.

April 20, 2020
Press Release

PEORIA, IL — Today, Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Rick Larsen (D-WA) led a group of 15 members of Congress in sending a letter to the Chinese government requesting it stop unnecessary export restrictions of critical COVID-19 testing supplies, like swabs and reagents, to the United States.

On March 31, the Chinese government implemented new regulations on COVID-19 testing kits, ventilators, and other medical supplies manufactured in China for export. Since then, several American companies have had to halt shipments of medical supplies from China to the United States.

“While we understand the goal of preventing the export of low-quality products, these broad restrictions, unfortunately, appear to have the unintended consequence of blocking critical, high-quality medical products from reaching the United States in a timely manner,” the lawmakers write in the letter. “As the virus continues to spread, our states are struggling with shortages of testing kits, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies necessary to respond to this emergency. These shortages are hampering efforts to contain the virus and placing healthcare workers and their patients at risk.”

Imported medical supplies are required to comply with the quality standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Including another layer of red tape on top of our domestic quality assurance is adding unnecessary delay to acquiring products states desperately need to combat COVID-19.

“As we work to get our country to a position where we can open back up, it’s vital that our states and local communities continue to receive supplies to combat COVID-19,” said Rep. LaHood, a member of the Ways and Means Committee and Co-Chair of the U.S.-China Working Group. “While it’s important that we inspect medical supplies coming out of China, products manufactured by U.S. companies that can assist our efforts to fight coronavirus should be exempt from unnecessary export restrictions during this time of crisis.”

“It’s clear no matter how much people adhere to social distancing and stay at home orders, we will not be able to safely reopen our economy and return to our daily lives without widespread testing across the country,” said Rep. DelBene, a member of the Ways and Means Committee. “A lack of supplies is slowing down the expansion of COVID-19 testing. Labs across the country can have endless capacity but that means nothing without the swabs, reagents, and other materials needed to conduct tests.”

“Expanding COVD-19 testing is critical to helping ensure Washingtonians can safely get back to work and resume their daily lives,” said Rep. Larsen, a Co-Chair of the U.S.-China Working Group. “Countries need to work together to eliminate unnecessary restrictions which prevent testing equipment from getting where it is needed during this pandemic.”

The letter requests the Chinese government exempt medical products bound for the United States from this regulation to expedite the export process. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Carol Miller (R-WV), Ron Kind (D-WI), Tom Rice (R-SC), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) also signed onto the letter

The full text of the letter can be found here.