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 BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms 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 BaldwinBuilding back better by investing in workers and communities The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default MORE (D-Wisc.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyExpats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines Growing number of Democrats endorse abolishing debt limit altogether Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase 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 TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups 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 FeinsteinSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Jane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council on Mental Wellbeing — Merck asks FDA to authorize five-day COVID-19 treatment MORE (D-Calif.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed America can end poverty among its elderly citizens Congress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it MORE (D-Ore.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthSenate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades Building back better by investing in workers and communities LIVE COVERAGE: Senators press military leaders on Afghanistan MORE (D-Ill.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats ask for details on threats against election workers On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights MORE (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAmerica can end poverty among its elderly citizens Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Misguided recusal rules lock valuable leaders out of the Pentagon 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.