Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act
Senate Democrats called on President-elect Joe Biden 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 Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Chris Murphy (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.
“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 Trump’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 Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (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.