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New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and other federal representatives introduced on Wednesday the bipartisan, bicameral National Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Supply Chain Database Act. establishing a national database with information about the interconnectivity of manufacturers in the United States supply chain.

The database would help prevent future supply chain disruptions by offering manufacturers key information as they make decisions on how to retool in critical areas to meet the demand for key products, such as defense supplies, food, and medical devices.

“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,” said Sen. Menendez.

“Future pandemics, natural disasters, cyber-attacks, 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.”

In a statement, the Menendez, Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), as well as U.S. Representatives Norma Torres (D-Calif.-35) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.-03), said the during the early stages of the pandemic, states understood what was produced in their states, but were generally unaware of how dependent in-state manufacturing was on out-of-state resources.

The legislation would help close this gap in available information about America’s manufacturing supply chains by leveraging the Hollings MEP program of the National Institute Standards and Technology (NIST) 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 technology-based services these firms need to grow and thrive in today’s economy and create well-paying manufacturing jobs.

The National MEP Supply Chain Database Act is supported by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program and the American Small Manufacturers Coalition.

“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 Senator Menendez began 5-years ago,” said John Kennedy, CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program. “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.”

A copy of the bill text can be found here.