• Sen. Bernie Sanders is spearheading a proposal aimed at providing free face masks to all Americans.
  • The Masks for All Act allocates $5 billion for domestic manufacturing, procurement, and mask distribution to households via the US Postal Service.
  • It also requires the federal government to use available authorities, like the Defense Production Act, to manufacture masks.
  • Democrats have slammed the Trump administration for having not activating the Defense Protection Act sooner to replenish the national stockpile amid reports of face masks shortages in hospitals across the country.
  • “We are the only high-income country in the world where infections and deaths are skyrocketing instead of falling,” Sanders said in a Tuesday statement.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading the charge alongside dozens of other lawmakers in a bill aimed to provide face masks to all Americans at no cost.

The act, known as the Masks for All Act, proposes requiring the federal government to use available authorities, like the Defense Production Act, to manufacture and procure masks. It allocates $5 billion for domestic manufacturing, procurement, and mask distribution to households via the US Postal Service.

“We are the only high-income country in the world where infections and deaths are skyrocketing instead of falling,” Sanders said in a Tuesday statement.

“That is an absolute scandal,” he added.

Sanders unveiled the bill earlier this week, joined by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Doug Jones, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Tina Smith, Chris Van Hollen, and Elizabeth Warren. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gary Peters also support the proposal.

Reps. Ro Khanna, Lori Trahan, and Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced the Masks for All Act in the House.

“Dozens of my colleagues and I are proposing that we do what our public health experts and scientists say we must do,” Sanders continued.

Health experts have long recommended using a face mask to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. A study from UK researchers also showed “the more people wore masks, the closer a community could get to containing its outbreak,” according to Business Insider’s Aria Bendix.

Democrats have slammed the Trump administration for having not activating the Defense Protection Act sooner to replenish the national stockpile amid reports of face masks shortages in hospitals across the country.

“The fact is, this administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a failure,” Sen. Kamala Harris said in a statement. “Its inaction when it comes to fully implementing the Defense Production Act and preparing our country’s stockpile of protective equipment and supplies, including masks, has been disastrous and deadly.”

“Congress must put forth solutions that can make an immediate difference and get resources to the communities most in need,” she added.

Healthcare workers bore the brunt of the recent surges in COVID-19 cases, with hospitalizations on the rise and some states implementing another round of shutdowns in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. As of Wednesday, the US has more than 4.4 million confirmed infections and more than 150,000 deaths.

“This is not a political or partisan issue,” Sanders said. “Providing all of our people with high-quality, reusable masks without cost could save tens of thousands of lives and avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in economic harm.”

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