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Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act

Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats called on President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year MORE Tuesday to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost production and stockpiling of testing supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment. 

Twenty-six senators, led by Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line Democrats offer resolution denouncing white supremacists ahead of Trump trial MORE (D-Wisc.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyAmazon manager sues company over racial discrimination, harassment allegations Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster MORE (D-Conn.), wrote a letter to Biden asking him to fully utilize the DPA just one day before he is sworn into office.

The DPA gives the president broad authority to increase the manufacturing output of critical items in a national emergency. 

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“Given the continued supply chain issues that we have seen over the past year, we believe it is in the best interest of the American public to shore up our access to critical supplies immediately and in the long term through all available DPA authorities,” they wrote.

The senators added the DPA could also be used to regulate vaccine distribution. Biden plans to use the DPA to boost vaccine production, a member of his COVID-19 advisory team said last month.

The senators also criticized President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE’s response to the pandemic and the presidential transition, adding that the lack of transparency during the transition may mean the Biden team doesn’t have “full insight into the state of the medical supply pipeline and Strategic National Stockpile.”

They said that using the DPA could be a boon to American manufacturers.

“President Trump has not used his DPA authority sufficiently enough to award adequate medical supply contracts for the nation’s needs. We must immediately do more to re-shore the most in-demand PPE, such as nitrile gloves, nearly all of which are manufactured in China,” they wrote.

Other senators on the letter include Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill What exactly are uber-woke educators teaching our kids? MORE (D-Calif.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage Progressives push White House to overturn wage ruling MORE (D-Ore.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDuckworth calls for Russian bounties intelligence to be declassified Senate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (D-Ill.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharJuan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP Open-ended antitrust is an innovation killer FBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot MORE (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax Sanders vows to force vote on minimum wage Warren's wealth tax would cost 100 richest Americans billion MORE (D-Mass.).

Trump has used the Defense Production Act during the COVID-19 pandemic, first in March to order General Motors to ramp up the production of life-saving ventilators. He also invoked it in April to order meat processing plants to stay open.