Yesterday, Jared Kushner was summarily roasted by reporters, who pointed out that his flat-out statement that the federal stockpile is “our stockpile” not “states’ stockpiles, that they can then use” directly contradicted the definition of the national stockpile on the website of the Department of Health and Human Services. Through the magic of editing, the website changed overnight—although of course not before reporters and the Wayback Machine had screengrabbed yesterday’s version.
What is the federal stockpile, exactly?
Rather than being a “repository” which “contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously” — a federal stockpile — it is now “a short-term stopgap buffer” for states which already “have products stockpiled.”
An archived version of the website previously described the stockpile thusly:
Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.
When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.
The new version omits “tribal and territorial” entities. As though in the blurted whimper of a manchild, there’s a non sequitur by-the-way stuck in there about states having stockpiles, too:
The Strategic National Stockpile’s role is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies. Many states have products stockpiled, as well. The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available.
Who is it for?
According to Donald Trump, it is not for “complainers.” “The complainers should have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit,” he tweeted yesterday. “Other states are thrilled with the job we have done.” He then released approximately the same message on White House stationery, and addressed it to New York Senator Chuck Schumer. “As you are aware, the Federal Government is merely a back-up for state governments,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, your state needed far more of a back-up than most others.”
The federal government did supply New York State with 4,000 ventilators from its stockpile, although Business Insider reported that at least hundreds arrived damaged or broken. The New York Times has reported that 2,109 ventilators otherwise in the stockpile are now unavailable because of a contract dispute between the federal government and a medical equipment maintenance company which wasn’t resolved until January. Trump claims that the stockpile currently contains 10,000 ventilators.
None of this answers the question: who the fuck is the stockpile for? Who is the “us” in Kushner’s “our”? As stupid and petty as the change is, the omission of “tribal and territorial responders” isn’t accidental.