California Democrat calls for making Defense Production Act orders public
Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) on Wednesday called for the White House to make its Defense Production Act (DPA) orders pertaining to medical supplies public, writing in an op-ed that available information about President Trump’s use of the law is “not encouraging.”
“Most government contracts are made public because transparency with taxpayer dollars is the best way to deter waste, fraud and abuse of federal resources,” Porter wrote in The Washington Post.
The DPA was passed with wartime production in mind, often involving military technology, so the details of the orders are secret.
Porter, however, wrote that when the DPA became law during the Harry Truman administration, policymakers were not imagining “a moment when every country was scrounging for medical gowns, masks and other protective equipment or was in the hunt for a cure to a new virus.”
Porter notes that she wrote a letter to the White House asking for a full accounting of DPA orders and the funds remaining of the $1 billion the CARES Act authorized for the DPA.
The California congresswoman writes that historically, Trump has not been “keen about the DPA,” citing the nearly two weeks between his announcement that he would increase ventilator production using the DPA and the actual date the order was finalized, as well as the White House invoking the DPA to increase the production of tests just last week, by which point 40,000 people in America had died from coronavirus.
“The administration claims it has enough tests, but in fact we don’t know how many tests we have, how many have been ordered, how many are in production and how much we’re paying for them,” she wrote. “Now is not the time for guessing games. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead, and millions are out of work in part because Trump dragged his feet and misled the public about what his administration was doing and when.”
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.