U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has been an advocate for manufacturers for a long time. He has especially been vocal about having a national database with information about the interconnectivity of all manufacturers in the U.S. supply chain, as he knows the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, such as the issues at the ports, shortage of workers and outbreaks from variants, have had the nation talking about supply shortages for the last 18-20 months and have impacted a range of businesses nationwide.
On Wednesday, Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral National Manufacturing Extension Partnership Supply Chain Database Act. That legislation will establish a database to help all manufacturers prevent future supply chain disruptions by offering key information as they make decisions on how to retool in critical areas to meet the demand for key products.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep vulnerabilities in our own national supply chains that we are still dealing with as a country and that make us susceptible during moments of crisis,” Menendez said. “Future pandemics, natural disasters, cyberattacks, raw material shortages and even trade disputes could cripple our supply chains right when we need to engage them most in order to deliver critical goods to the American public. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill to ensure the federal government has a critical tool that could give us reliable information about American manufacturers’ capabilities and inventories in order to prevent future disruptions should a future crisis arise.”
As demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a national overview of the nation’s manufacturing supply chain would help avoid future bottlenecks. This legislation would leverage the Hollings MEP program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create the National MEP Supply Chain Database and connect MEP centers through this national database.
The MEP program is a federal public-private partnership that provides small and medium-sized manufacturers with technology-based services these firms need to grow and thrive in today’s economy and create well-paying manufacturing jobs.
“Many people are now just coming to the realization that our U.S. supply chain is compromised, but NJMEP’s discussions on this topic with Sen. Menendez began five years ago,” said John Kennedy, CEO of the NJMEP. “Over this time, a viable plan to map and control our supply chain nationally has been developed, which would implement a robust database that draws on the considerable strength brought forward by the MEP National Network. … There is no ‘immediate fix,’ but this is a great step forward.”
According to a report by NJMEP released in April, manufacturers in New Jersey account for 8.43% of total output in the state, or $52.7 billion. New Jersey manufacturers employ 6% of the workforce, with the average annual compensation for those in manufacturing being $94,610.87.
The National MEP Supply Chain Database Act is cosponsored by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in the U.S. Senate and Reps. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.