Trump invokes Defense Production Act: Here’s what that means for coronavirus

Chris Burns - Mar 18, 2020, 2:47 pm CDT
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Trump invokes Defense Production Act: Here’s what that means for coronavirus

COVID-19 in the USA was the reason for President Donald Trump’s invoking of the Defense Production Act (DPA). This act was originally put in place by President Truman during the Korean War, and has been changed significantly since then. As laid out in the last major change of provisions in the act, in a CRS (Congressional Research Service) Report for Congress by Daniel H. Else, Specialist in National Defense, on May 14, 2009, “DPA authorities are not permanent.”

Per that outline (see PDF here), “The DPA codifies a robust legal authority given the President to force industry to give priority to national security production and is the statutory underpinning of governmental review of foreign investment in U.S. companies.” That last bit is interesting – and probably won’t come into play with this particular enacting of the DPA, but you never know.

It’s suggested that this system is putting in place a system with which the government can reserve production of emergency medical materials for health professionals. This would be ideal. Given President Trump’s tendency to continuously enrich himself via his position in the government by direct or indirect means (see: Mar-a-Lago, government spending on Trump properties), we should also keep an eye on the broad implications and potential for the re-enactment of the DPA.

For example, the act provides “antitrust protection for voluntary industry agreements serving defense interests.” The act also “established a voluntary reserve of trained private sector executives available for emergency federal employment, among other authorities.” This should leave the door WIDE OPEN for President Donald Trump to use his own and affiliated companies to fill the needs of the moment – be it production of breathing masks, protective gear, or any other bits and pieces.

In this address on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Trump also noted that a Navy hospital ship was deployed to New York City. Another Navy hospital ship will be sent to the West Coast – likely to Southern California, but we shall see.

It was also announced that the United States Housing and Urban Development Department will suspend foreclosures and evictions “through April”. This will be key in allowing people who’ve had work suspended during the outbreak to avoid homelessness … at least for the next several weeks.


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