Trump Uses Defense Production Act to Instruct General Motors to Prioritize Ventilators

Posted: Mar 27, 2020 4:40 PM
Trump Uses Defense Production Act to Instruct General Motors to Prioritize Ventilators

Source: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

On Friday, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950, instructing General Motors to focus on the production of ventilators. The president has previously refrained from using the Defense Production Act but he is now accusing General Motors of "wasting time" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Defense Production Act is a wartime law that allows the president to direct private-sector companies to manufacture certain goods. 

"Today, I signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators," Trump said in a statement.

The president said the order will ensure the quick production of ventilators and save lives as more confirmed cases of COVID-19 come forward. General Motors has previously announced efforts to boost the production of ventilators, but the president has grown frustrated with the company's results.

"Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time. Today's action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives."

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor said recently that private companies have been stepping up voluntarily to help in the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

"We haven't [enforced] it yet. It's leverage to demonstrate that we can use it, the president can use it at any time," Gaynor told CNN's Jake Tapper. "It's really amazing how great America is. All these companies coming up and asking us what they can do to help."