The Defense Production Act and the Failure to Prepare for Catastrophic Incidents.
“The executive branch’s ad-hoc application of the Defense Production Act’s authorities to this pandemic is Exhibit A of how our government, across multiple Republican and Democratic administrations and throughout the national security enterprise, has failed to develop or adapt the Act’s tools for the threats of the 21st century. This failure has occurred despite congressional attempts to improve realistic planning for using it in catastrophes.”
From E&ENews: How the Defense Production Act became a disaster law.
Thanks to Chris Jones for the citation.
Update: NYTimes article: It’s High Time We Fought This Virus the American Way.
The administration has all the authority it needs to produce medical supplies and prepare for a potential vaccine.
Postings re March 18 Invoking:
(1) From the WashPost: Governors and mayors in growing uproar over Trump’s lagging coronavirus response.
A fundamental issue is when the President will invoke the Defense Production Act. A quote on that from Biden: “Mr. President, stop lying and start acting,” Biden said. “Use the full extent of your authorities, now, to ensure that we are producing all essential goods and delivering them where they need to go.”
Update on March 24th, when first use of the Act is made: from Politico: Trump will use Defense Production Act to secure thousands of test kits. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said activating the statute would help access test kits and face masks.
Update on March 25th: Is Trump using the Defense Production Act? Two excerpts:
The New York Times reported that lobbying from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and major corporate chiefs dissuaded Trump from using the full powers of the Defense Production Act.
A Biden health-care adviser said using the full force of the Defense Production Act would yield more visibility into manufacturing and supply-chain capabilities. “We need the U.S. government to be able to have insight into that supply chain and insight into the distribution of those supplies to where they are most needed, and only the U.S. government, HHS and FEMA can do that,” the adviser said. “It’s not just the simple production that you need from the DPA, [it’s] the extraordinary variety of the things we need: everything from sophisticated equipment like ventilators to nonsophisticated equipment like swabs and millions of tests.”
Update on March 28: Trump is finally using the Defense Production Act to make ventilators. But that might not solve the problem. Making ventilators is hard. Getting politicians to agree on paying for them is harder.