President Trump and FEMA chief contradict each other on Defense Production Act

Lawmakers implore total implementation of Defense Production Act

President Trump and the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency contradicted each other in a few minutes this morning on whether the defense production law is used in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"Just a little while ago my team came in and we're actually going to use the DPA for first time today", Gaynor said.

Until now, President Donald Trump has been hesitant to invoke the most forceful powers of the 1950 Defense Production Act, describing it in multiple settings as more of a point of leverage than a tool his administration would employ.

"My current goal has been and will continue to be to ensure that we provide essential supplies to the places in the country that need them most. And the second thing we're going to do is insert some language into these mask contract we have - 500 million masks - DPA language will be in that today", Gaynor said on CNN.

On Tuesday, Gaynor told CNN that when using the DPA the administration "wanted to be thoughtful about not upsetting the balance, making sure that we can get it out to market and the federal government [does] not consume it all".

But Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, said in comments on Fox News that it has not been necessary to put the emergency measure to use.

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One of those rumors, said Gaynor, is that FEMA doesn't have money on hand to procure supplies. "We're going to use it for about 60,000 test kits, and really we're going to use the allocation portion of the DPA".

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly asked the federal government to utilize the act to direct companies to build needed supplies such as gowns, masks and ventilators.

USA associations representing doctors, nurses, and hospitals recently sent a letter to the president Saturday that said that "America's hospitals, health systems, physicians and nurses urge you to immediately use the DPA".

Some Democratic officials have been imploring Mr. Trump to use the law to order private companies to manufacture and deliver more ventilators, masks and other protective gear, to ease demand and reduce costs to states.

The DPA gives the federal government the power to direct companies to prioritize production to meet U.S. national defense demands. "I do not for the life of me understand the reluctance to use the federal Defense Production Act", he said.

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