U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) joined Andy Levin (D-MI) and a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing legislation on March 23, calling on President Trump to make urgent use of his authority under the Defense Production Act to increase production of the equipment and supplies needed to respond to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
If approved, the resolution would, among other things, call on the president to immediately provide Congress with his administration’s plan to invoke its authority under the Defense Production Act, including the companies it’s seeking to target and the timelines it’s preparing to implement to increase production of the equipment and supplies hospitals and health care workers need to address the ongoing pandemic.
“If we don’t act fast, thousands of health care workers could soon be at risk of contracting this virus. If our doctors and nurses aren’t available to care for us, who will?”
Congresswoman Diana DeGette
The measure comes as state and local leaders across the country continue to make public appeals for the administration to invoke its power under the act to increase the availability of critical supplies health care workers need to protect themselves and care for patients – including ventilators and masks.
“We are in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis,” DeGette said. “This administration needs to invoke its powers under the Defense Production Act immediately to help provide our health care workers with the life-saving equipment they need to protect themselves and provide patients the care they need. If we don’t act fast, thousands of health care workers could soon be at risk of contracting this virus. If our doctors and nurses aren’t available to care for us, who will?”
The resolution makes clear that the House stands ready to make additional appropriations available to satisfy any additional obligations undertaken as a result of invoking the act.
The Defense Production Act is a seldom used wartime power that presidents can invoke in times of crisis to force private companies to shift their production in order to help meet the immediate needs of the nation.
President Trump signed an executive order on March 18 giving his administration the authority to invoke the act to respond to the spread of the coronavirus, but he has so far resisted growing calls to use the power he has under the act to order any company to shift their production to meet the nation’s urgent need for certain medical supplies.
In addition to DeGette and Levin, the resolution was co-sponsored by Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Katie Porter (D-CA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Van Taylor (R-TX) and Fred Upton (R-MI).
A copy of the resolution is available here.
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