Trump Invokes Defense Production Act to Fight Coronavirus Outbreak

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President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act on Friday, an emergency wartime tool to accelerate the production of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

On the Friday morning call, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged the president to immediately invoke the act to get more necessarily medical equipment to people who need it, especially in places like New York, who became the worst-hit state, with more than 7,000 confirmed cases as of Friday morning.

Trump assured Schumer he would and then “yelled to someone in his office to “Do it now.” 

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“Schumer urged [Trump] to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act to get ventilators & other important medical equipment to those who need it — [Trump] told Schumer he would, and then [Trump] yelled to someone in his office to do it now,” Schumer’s spokesman, Justin Goodman said in a readout of the call.

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During Friday briefing at the White House, the president confirmed he has put the act “into gear,” and was put it into effect on Thursday evening.

“We invoked it I think the day before, we signed it the evening of the day before and invoked it yesterday. We have a lot of people working very hard to get ventilators and various other things,” Trump said. “We’re invoking it to use the powers of the federal government to help the states get things that they need like the masks, like the ventilators.”

Trump added, “The Act is very good for things like this. We have millions of masks that we’ve ordered. They will be here soon. We’re having them shipped directly to states.”

On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order invoking the law. The Korean War-era act  grants the president extraordinary powers to force manufacture such as automakers to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply, and sell them to the federal government to distribute to hospitals.

After Trump signed the Defense Production Act Wednesday, he said it would only be invoked in a “worst case scenario.” However, both sides of the aisle in Congress, as well as governors have pressured Trump to invoke the powers as hospitals across the nation are coping with the extremely short supply of medical supplies as they prepare to be overwhelmed with by the rising cases of the coronavirus.

Trump said General Motors will be working with the federal government to supplement production amid equipment shortages. 

“We’re working with one automaker in particular, the ones that make ventilators,” Trump said. “They say they’ve done it before, which surprises me, but they can do it very easily.”

Vice President Mike Pence also announced a “major procurement from the federal government of N95 masks” and “new alternatives to increase the supply of ventilators.”