Democrats push for federal control during medical supply shortage

“We can’t confront a national crisis with bidding wars and massive price increases — we need a national strategy,” Warren said. “If President Trump won’t do his job, Congress will do it for him.”

But it’s unclear how much Republicans would be interested, if at all, given GOP lawmakers are loath to support any additional federal control over states.

Brown is undeterred, saying his effort comes after his home-state governor, Republican Larry Hogan, purchased 500,000 coronavirus test kits from South Korea due to states’ limited supplies. Brown’s measure seeks to make such direct purchases unnecessary.

But most of Maryland’s test kits have yet to be used, sitting in a undisclosed location protected by the state National Guard, Hogan told The Washington Post on Thursday. Brown attributes the unused kits to a lack of medical swabs needed to complete the test and says his bill would prevent that kind of mishap from happening again.

The situation in Maryland isn’t unique. As the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., states have been thrown into a highly competitive effort to procure supplies, competing against each other as they try to secure personal protective equipment for frontline workers, often at a much higher cost than normal.

The dearth of supplies and lack of organization at the federal level — President Donald Trump has waffled between a White House-led response and dismissively telling states the federal government is “not a shipping clerk” — has led some governors to get creative.

For example, in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker has relied on the New England Patriots to help deliver 1.2 million face masks purchased from China, using the football team’s private plane and semitractor-trailer.

And even that isn’t a solution — in recent weeks there have been questions in both the U.S. and Britain about the effectiveness of PPE supplies, including masks and ventilators, procured from China.