Washington Post: Democrats ask watchdog to probe Trump administration’s handling of national health stockpile

April 13, 2020
In The News

Five House Democrats on Monday asked a federal watchdog to investigate what they said was mismanagement of the national health-care stockpile, alleging a “negligence and failure of leadership ... has put our health care workers and our constituents in grave danger.”

The request — sent to Christi Grimm, principal deputy inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services — cites a “woefully inadequate” supply of personal protective equipment and ventilators available to states, while recounting statements by President Trump and actions by his administration that may have undermined national preparedness.

“It is deeply troubling that the Strategic National Stockpile was unable to provide the support necessary for our states to adequately protect our health care workers’ response to the virus,” said the letter, which is signed by Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), Don Beyer (Va.), Katie Porter (Calif.) and Jason Crow (Colo.).

The members asked Grimm to report on state requests from the stockpile and what materials they actually received in return, as well as details on the process for filling stockpile requests and actions taken to prepare the stockpile for the novel coronavirus. They also asked Grimm to review whether Trump administration policy changes, such as the elimination of a devoted pandemic response team at the National Security Council, affected the stockpile’s readiness.

The letter also makes an apparent reference to an April 2 remark from White House adviser Jared Kushner that the federal stockpile is “not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

“What notification did HHS provide to state public health department that they should be preparing their own stockpiles in accordance with the Administration’s apparent view that the role of the Stockpile was solely to supplement state and local resources?” the Democrats asked Grimm.