President Donald Trump has not yet exercised the powers of the Defense Production Act, despite invoking it last Wednesday. The act would allow him to direct private companies to produce goods needed to combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), such as masks and ventilators.
The Defense Production Act was established in 1950 during the Korean War to allow the government to direct private industries to produce weapons, vehicles and other wartime necessities. In 2009, Congress expanded it to include domestic preparedness and national emergency response.
The coronavirus pandemic, which Trump declared a state of emergency over, has caused a shortage of important medical supplies.
The ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), said the act is critical for ensuring the fast production of ventilators and other medical supplies.
“Instead of preparing and mobilizing for this pandemic, President Trump tried to downplay it,” Reed said in a statement. ” As a result, America is not as ready as we should be. In France, factories that once manufactured fancy perfumes are starting to churn out needed hand sanitizer instead. You can’t do these things overnight. It takes planning and coordination. President Trump is finally taking needed steps, but we’ve got to do more.”
Trump has not yet put the act to use, because he is apparently afraid of “nationalizing our business” and turning into Venezuela.
“We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business,” Trump said at a Sunday White House press conference. “Call a person over in Venezuela; ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out. Not too well. The concept of nationalizing our business is not a good concept.”
In a tweet announcing his decision to invoke the act, Trump said he would only use it “in a worst case scenario.”
“Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!” he tweeted.