Trump rejects calls to directly use Defense Production Act

President Trump on Sunday rejected calls from governors, hospitals and others to direct companies to ramp up production of critical supplies for the coronavirus fight through the use of the Defense Production Act.

Trump argued that he has used the Defense Production Act (DPA) as leverage in negotiations with companies to get them to produce supplies and equipment for the coronavirus fight.

He also argued against nationalizing industries, though that is not something that would be done through the use of the DPA.

“We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela,” Trump told reporters. “How did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well.”
Trump administration officials pointed to voluntary actions from companies, such as 3M announcing more masks are being shipped to New York and Seattle. 
“We’re getting what we need without putting the heavy hand of government down,” White House adviser Peter Navarro said at Sunday’s briefing with the president.  
Trump has been under increasing pressure to use his powers under the DPA to direct private companies to increase production of supplies such as masks and other protective gear for health care workers as well as ventilators, which allow seriously ill people to breathe. 
Hospitals say that they need Trump to invoke the law to ramp up production of protective gear for health workers that is running dangerously low. They say the normal channels on the private market are sold out. 
“We urge that the Defense Production Act be fully employed,” American Hospital Association CEO Rick Pollack said on a call with reporters Saturday.
Illustrating the need for the government to help get more supplies, Pollack added, “We have people that are making masks at home and donating them to the hospital.” 
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) warned that prices for crucial masks had spiked from $0.85 to $7 apiece and urged the federal government to step in. 
“The Federal Government should immediately use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make gowns, masks and gloves,” Cuomo tweeted Sunday. “Currently, states are competing against other states for supplies.”
The Defense Production Act would not nationalize a business, but it does allow the government to direct private businesses to make certain supplies. The companies under the direction would remain private. 
“To be clear, the DPA does not authorize seizure of private sector,” tweeted Juliette Kayyem, a Harvard professor and former Obama administration Homeland Security official. “US government pays fair market value, while compelling manufacturing priorities; private sector is guaranteed a market.  Only US knows the needs of all states.”
Tags Coronavirus Defense Production Act Donald Trump
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