- President Donald Trump is under great pressure to use the Defense Production Act to help the United States respond to coronaviruses.
- The law gives Trump extensive powers to pressurize the private sector to produce materials needed to support national defense.
- Trump has invoked the Korean War law but has not yet materially applied it.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
President Donald Trump is under increasing pressure in both parties from Congress governors and legislators to stop flirting with the use of the powers conferred on him by the Defense Equipment Act and to use the country fully in his response to the coronavirus pandemic .
Trump and his officials have sent confusing, mixed messages about the law.
"The Defense Production Law is in full force, but did not have to apply because no one said NO! Millions of masks are coming back to the States." Trump tweeted on Tuesday, March 24th.
The same day, FEMA said it was applying the law to obtain test kits for the virus. just to go back later.
Meanwhile, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has asked Trump to use the Defense Production Act to help the state get much-needed ventilators. He has condemned the president for being a "war president" but not acting that way.
"President said it's a war. It's a war. Then act like a war," Cuomo said Tuesday. "Only the federal government has this power and this power is inexplicable to me … I do not understand the reluctance to apply the federal law on the production of defense goods for my whole life."
Here's what the Defense Production Act does
The Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950 is a Korean War law that empowers the President to pressure US industry to produce supplies for national defense.
"The Data Protection Agency allows the President to prioritize government orders for goods and services over competing customers, among other things, and provide incentives on the domestic market to improve the production and delivery of critical materials and technologies when necessary for national defense." according to the Congressional Research Agency (CRS).
The data protection agency was originally designed to strengthen the U.S. military capabilities, but has been expanded to help the United States manage natural hazards, terrorist attacks, and other national emergencies.
The law has three main sections that give the President different powers under the CRS:
- "Priorities and assignmentsThis enables the President to require individuals (including corporations and corporations) to prioritize and accept contracts for materials and services when necessary to promote national defense. "
- ""Expansion of the production capacity and the offerThis enables the President to incentivize the domestic industrial base to expand the production and supply of critical materials and goods. Approved incentives include loans, loan guarantees, direct purchases and purchase commitments, as well as the authority to purchase and install equipment in private industrial facilities. "
- ""General provisions, which contains key definitions for the data protection authority and several different authorities, including the power to enter into voluntary agreements with the private sector; the power to block proposed or pending mergers, acquisitions, or acquisitions of foreign companies that threaten national security; and the authority to employ people with outstanding experience and skills and to build a voluntary pool of industry leaders who could be appointed to government service in the interests of national defense. "
Why Trump didn't use the data protection agency
The president referred to the data protection authority an executive order last Wednesday.
"I appealed to the Defense Production Act and we started it last night," Trump said on Friday March 20. "We rely on the power of the federal government to help states get things they need, such as masks and fans."
But the president has turned this upside down, even though governors like Cuomo have asked him to help states get vital medical equipment, including front-line protective equipment for medical workers.
"We are a country that is not based on the nationalization of our business" Trump said on Sunday, March 22nd, at a press conference. "The concept of nationalizing our companies is not a good concept." The law does not nationalize companies.
Trump also suggested that companies would have difficulty making medical devices such as ventilators, making it easier for patients to breathe when they are having trouble on their own. "Nobody would know where to start," said Trump. "When I call companies and say," They build ventilators, "they don't even know what a ventilator is."
"We threaten to do it when we need it," said Trump. "But we made millions of masks. We have respirators. We have ventilators. We have a lot of things right now. So just the threat of using them."
"We are using it now. The fact that I signed it is in effect," added Trump, although the law is not really being applied.
In short, Trump does not fully lean on the data protection agency because it claims that the private sector is stepping up to fill the gaps in the necessary supplies.
"General Motors, Ford, so many companies – I had three calls directly yesterday without having to initiate like," They'll do that "- these companies are making them," Trump said on Saturday. But that was wrongand there is currently no automaker in the U.S. near to build such devices.
But Cuomo said Tuesday that his state, which is the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., still desperately needs ventilators. He said New York had about 3,000 to 4,000 ventilators and bought about 7,000 more, but needed 30,000 to cope with the scale of the outbreak.
As of Wednesday, March 25, there were over 26,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York State, which is approximately half of all cases (over 55,000) in the United States.