Trump Has Invoked Wartime Powers, But What Does That Entail?
The Defense Production Act was inspired by World War II-era laws that gave the White House the ability to tell private companies what to make for the good of the country. President Donald Trump said he was invoking the power in response to predictions that the nation's medical system will run out of masks, ventilators and hospital beds. Meanwhile, a look at how the government handled a lack of supplies in the past could offer hints about what should be done now.
The Associated Press:
Trump Taps Emergency Powers As Virus Relief Plan Proceeds
Describing himself as a “wartime president” fighting an invisible enemy, President Donald Trump on Wednesday invoked rarely used emergency powers to marshal critical medical supplies against the coronavirus pandemic. Trump also signed an aid package — which the Senate approved earlier Wednesday — that will guarantee sick leave to workers who fall ill. (Lemire and Colvin, 3/18)
Trump Invokes Defense Production Act As Coronavirus Response
President Trump announced Wednesday that he will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA), which would allow the administration to force American industry to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals, health workers and state and local officials have said they are quickly running out of personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, gowns and gloves, that are crucial to keeping doctors and nurses on the front lines of the pandemic safe. (Hellmann, 3/18)
Trump Invokes Wartime Law To Address Medical Supply Shortages
Trump said his administration aimed to ramp up production for ventilators, “millions” of masks, and “certain pieces of equipment,” though he did not specify what the government’s specific needs were, or what quantity of supplies the White House hoped could be produced. Trump also said he would deploy two Navy hospital ships to American cities hard-hit by cases of coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes, known as Covid-19. One, the USS Mercy, will be deployed to New York, Trump said. The president said his administration would soon decide where on the West Coast to deploy the other ship, the USS Comfort, which is based in San Diego. (Facher, 3/18)
The Washington Post:
Trump Invokes Rare Powers To Combat Coronavirus Outbreak He Previously Downplayed, Calling It 'War'
The Defense Department said Wednesday it was preparing two Navy hospital ships for deployments, including one slated to go to New York to boost the state’s medical capacity amid fears that the virus could become overwhelming should it spread among the millions of people who live in and around New York City. The Pentagon also said this week it would be making 5 million masks and 2,000 ventilators available for use by health workers.The measures aim to ramp up what state and local officials have described as Washington’s frustratingly slow and disjointed early response to the epidemic, which they have said was plagued by inadequate testing and an ignorance about the prospect of widespread shortages in medical equipment and facilities. (Olorunnipa, Miroff and Lamothe, 3/19)
Trump To Boost Medical Supply Production For COVID-19
The CMS will publish detailed recommendations about how to conserve personal protective equipment by limiting non-essential, elective medical and surgical procedures. "We believe that these recommendations will help surgeons, patients and hospitals prioritize what is essential while leaving the ultimate decision in the hands of state and local health officials and those clinicians who have direct responsibility to their patients," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. (Brady, 3/18)
The Washington Post:
Federal Agencies Told By The White House They Can Delay Nonessential Services
The White House, after weeks of reluctance to disrupt the gears of government, has now instructed federal agencies to adjust their operations to focus on “mission-critical” services to contain the coronavirus by limiting face-to-face interactions. In a memo late Tuesday, acting budget director Russell Vought told department heads that they should “postpone or significantly curtail” operations that cannot be carried out through telework or that require in-person interaction with the public. (Rein, Kindy and Yoder, 3/18)
Coronavirus: The Defense Production Act, Explained
The DPA was inspired by laws from 1941 and 1942 that gave the White House the ability to tell private companies what to make for the good of the country. Think, for example, of how Ford Motor Company made nearly 300,000 vehicles — including tanks — for World War II. As the Cold War heated up in the late 1940s and the Korean War began in June 1950, President Harry Truman’s administration thought it should codify those powers into law. With Congress’s help, the DPA was signed into law in September 1950. It’s been amended and altered over the years, but the general thrust remains the same. Specifically, the DPA allows the federal government to skip the line, so to speak, when it makes requests of private industries. But Trump can’t just go to a company and say “produce this.” He delegates those requests to federal agencies, and the one that does the vast majority of the ordering is the Defense Department. (Ward, 3/18)
The 5 WWII Lessons That Could Help The Government Fight Coronavirus
As the globe confronts the coronavirus pandemic, one urgent problem is the shortage of key pieces of equipment, including high-quality masks, test kits and—perhaps most important of all—ventilators. It seems hundreds of thousands of lives might be saved, if only manufacturers could quickly ramp up the production of such equipment, perhaps by a factor of 100 or 1,000, within a few weeks. The United States has done something similar, on a nationwide scale, once before—eight decades ago during the emergency of World War II. At that time, there was a desperate need to radically accelerate the output of items such as ships, tanks and bombers. With decisive government action, including taking a little bit of control from corporations, this effort was hugely successful. (Wilson, 3/19)
FDA Postpones Some Inspections Of U.S. Manufacturing Facilities
The spread of the novel coronavirus has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to temporarily postpone all routine inspections of manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The agency has also directed most employees to begin teleworking. The move, which comes one week after foreign inspections were suspended for several weeks, will halt inspections the agency typically conducts every few years based on risk analyses. (Silverman, 3/18)