16 state AGs urge Trump to use defense law to obtain critical coronavirus supplies

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A group of 16 state attorneys general is urging President Trump to immediately use his powers under a defense law to increase production of critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus. 

The group, led by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D), wrote a letter to Trump calling on him to use a 1950 law known as the Defense Production Act to direct companies to make more urgently needed supplies like masks for health care workers and ventilators that help seriously ill people breathe. 

“We are on the brink of catastrophic consequences resulting from the continued shortage of critical supplies,” the letter states. “The federal government must act decisively now and use its sweeping authority to get as many needed supplies produced as soon as possible for distribution as quickly as possible.”

The group of attorneys general, largely from blue states, pointed to widespread reports of health care workers on the front lines warning of dangerously low supplies of masks, gowns and other protective equipment. 

“It is imperative that you fully use the Defense Production Act immediately to help get critical resources into our States,” they wrote. 

The letter, dated Tuesday, is the latest in a mounting pressure campaign for Trump to use the powers. 

Several governors in hard-hit states, as well as the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, have all urged Trump to use his powers to increase supplies. 

Trump has resisted, warning at a news conference on Sunday that the law would mean too large a role for government, and saying voluntary actions from businesses are enough. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency initially announced on Tuesday that it would use the law’s powers in a limited way to obtain more test kits, but later backtracked Tuesday night and said it was able to get the kits without having to use the law. 

Tags Coronavirus Defense Production Act Donald Trump

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