Exclusive — 'We're More Dependent on China': Biden Lets Virginia Manufacturer of PPE Languish

President Joe Biden bragged during the State of the Union address about making more goods in America, but he has not only allowed for China to become the top main supplier of rubber medical gloves for the United States — he has refused to finish building a government-contracted factory in rural southwest Virginia begun under former President Donald Trump.

That facility alone would have created thousands of jobs and ensured the nation had its own supply of medical gloves should Beijing decide to cut off supplies.

Scott Maier, CEO of Blue Star NBR — the company contracted to build the factory, spoke to Breitbart News Washington Bureau Chief Matthew Boyle in an exclusive interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday about Biden’s failure to supply the U.S. with American-made medical gloves and instead rely on China as the nation’s largest supplier, leaving the country at risk.

Maier said during the coronavirus pandemic — when the U.S. found itself low on personal protective equipment due to the Obama administration depleting its emergency stockpile and never replenishing it — projects began under the Trump administration to make the rubber medical gloves and other critical supplies in America.

The contracts were initially handled by the Department of Defense (DOD) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Maier’s company, Blue Star NBR, was contracted amid the pandemic in 2020 to build a factory to make synthetic rubber for the gloves, as well as to build an adjacent factory to actually produce 18 to 20 billion gloves a year, which would have covered 17 percent of the U.S.’s needs of 120 billion rubber gloves per year, for everything from doctor’s visits to food preparation.

The $123 million state-of-the-art rubber factory completed construction in spring 2023, but with inflation and the cost of energy and building materials up, Maier needed $60 million to hook it up to utilities and $170 million to build the glove factory — which he reportedly never got funding for. In May 2023, the DOD told him the contract was over, and Maier would have to win a new one, or find private funding.

Maier said the Biden HHS told him they are out of money, but according to the Washington Post, the agency awarded a new contract in September 2023 to a different company for a yet-to-be-built rubber plant in Louisiana that is expected to produce rubber in two years from now.

Meanwhile, only two percent of rubber gloves needed in the U.S. is being produced domestically, according to the PostThe HHS claimed it had expanded the capacity to produce more gloves has expanded, but that was in terms of “infrastructure” and not actual production itself.

To make things worse, despite its responsibility for the pandemic, China is now on its way to becoming the majority supplier of medical gloves in the U.S., as Breitbart News’ Boyle recently exclusively reported.

“What’s happened is China has gone from about 14 percent of our supply to about 44 percent at the end of last year. And you know, on their current trajectory, they’ll have about two-thirds by the end of this year,” Maier told Boyle.

Last fall, Maier had to start mothballing the factory that was started to avoid this outcome.

 And his company is not the only one facing this situation.

“We’re just one example,” Maier said. “Just with nitrile gloves, there’s another six companies that are in the same boat that are 80 percent complete, but aren’t producing anything and, you know, that was close to $700 million of investment.”

“If you look at the $17 billion that went out, there’s got to be probably 50 or 60 other companies that have these facilities that are probably 80, 90 percent complete but actually aren’t producing anything,” he added. “And again we need to make the critical items that we need here in the U.S. or at least have a portion so we never have a situation where we can’t get these critical items.”

Maier said when they appealed to the Biden administration, their requests fell on deaf ears.

“When we talk to the administration…they say, ‘Well, we want the private sector to come in.’ Well, unfortunately, when the government comes in and jumpstarts a project like this, it crowds out the private sector. And then the private sector looks in and says, ‘Well, it looks like the government’s really abandoned you. They’re not giving you money to finish your factory and they’re also not even buying the product that’s coming out.’”

A group of Republican senators have pressed the Biden administration to finish this and other projects. Earlier this year, GOP Sens. J.D. Vance (OH), Josh Hawley (MO), and Rick Scott (FL) sent a letter on this issue to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. They wrote in a letter on February 29:

Rather than build on the foundation established by President Trump, this administration has attempted to start from scratch—and failed. President Biden failed to renew or replace President Trump’s executive orders with similar authorizations when they expired in 2022. Your department published a 40-page assessment of the public health supply chain and industrial base, yet it has failed to take adequate steps to ensure robust domestic PPE production.

But even Virginia’s two Democrat senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner appealed to the Biden administration last year — to no avail.

Virginia Republican Senate candidate and U.S. Navy veteran Hung Cao highlighted the risks of Chinese-made rubber gloves in a recent exclusive interview with Breitbart News.

‘This touches every American every day from the person who packs the meat in the stores to your food vendors to first responders like my wife, who’s an EMT, to everybody; even police officers have to wear it now… because they’re afraid of fentanyl touching and it gets absorbed into the skin.’ … We have to wear these things. We depend on them, and the Chinese quality is not the same as American quality. We live by a standard, and what if their standards are wrong? What if it was laced with something else? I’m just saying anything can happen when it’s not done in the United States, and we need to protect our country. We need to protect our people. And that starts with onshoring all these resources, especially personal protective equipment, PPE.’

Despite this, Biden claimed during his speech on Thursday:

And now instead of importing foreign products and exporting American jobs, we’re exporting American products and creating American jobs – right here in America where they belong! … Buy American has been the law of the land since the 1930s. Past administrations including my predecessor failed to Buy American.

Not any more. On my watch, federal projects like helping to build American roads bridges and highways will be made with American products built by American workers creating good-paying American jobs!

Maier said what needs to happen now is the Biden administration needs to allocate finishing funds to get the factories completed so they can start producing.

“We know the demand is there. In the private sector, all of these hospitals want to diversify their supply chain because everyone realizes, having 98 percent of a critical item come from one region is not a good business model,” he said.

Maier said he would welcome former President Donald Trump, who is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, coming to his factory in Virginia to see what needs to be done.

He added, “I’ll welcome anyone that wants to come see all the hard work that’s been put into this, to see a state of the art facility that’s sitting basically mothballed that can produce a critical item that this country desperately needs. But instead, we’re just more dependent on China than we were before the pandemic started,” he said.

 

Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on ”X”, Truth Social, or on Facebook. 


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