On Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz introduced a bill in the Senate that would lessen American dependence on China for life-saving medications and treatments and turn toward cooperation with Israel instead.
The bill, which was offered by a bipartisan group of senators including Chris Coons (D-DE), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), is titled the ‘‘Expanding Medical Partnerships with Israel to Lessen Dependence on China Act.’’ It states it would “authorize funding for a bilateral cooperative program with Israel for the development of health technologies with a focus on combating COVID-19.”
This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a brief eight-hours in Israel, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “You’re a great partner. You share your information, unlike some other countries that try and obfuscate and hide information. And we’ll talk about that country, too,” as The Jerusalem Post reported.
A senior State Department official asserted China is “not a reliable partner,” adding, “I think COVID sort of highlights the dangers of dealing with states that are not transparent, that don’t have fair trade practices, that really leverage and torque their trade to leverage certain things out of their trade partners … I think it’s important for us as allies, strategic partners to be able to discuss the type of threats and the types of ways to mitigate those kind of threats.”
Cruz stated: “Our dependence on China for life-saving medications and treatments is deeply problematic. We’re now seeing leaders of the Chinese Communist Party – in the midst of a public health crisis they allowed to go global and endanger millions – threaten to withhold live-saving medical supplies and medications from the United States. By expanding partnerships with Israel – an ally and a global leader in medicine – to develop coronavirus treatments, this legislation is a common sense step to address that threat.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the significant risk of overreliance on any one country for lifesaving medical products. We should redouble our efforts to work with friendly nations to diversify our medical supply chains. This bipartisan bill would strengthen our partnership with our ally Israel and combine our research and manufacturing efforts to develop new medications and medical products that will help fight COVID-19.
The bill states:
There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Health and Human Services $4,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2023 for a bilateral cooperative program with the Government of Israel for awarding grants for the development of health technologies, including such technologies described in subsection (b), subject to subsection (c), with an emphasis on collaboratively advancing the use of technology, personalized medicine, and data in relation to COVID-19.
The health technologies described in this subsection shall include technologies such as artificial intelligence, sensors, monitoring devices, drugs and vaccinations, respiratory assist devices, diagnostic tests, telemedicine, and remote monitoring.
The funding under subsection (a) is subject to a matching contribution from the Government of Israel.
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Author: Hank Berrien