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Trump invokes Defense Production Act, accusing General Motors of ‘wasting time’ on producing ventilators

Trump invokes Defense Production Act, accusing General Motors of ‘wasting time’ on producing ventilators
President Donald Trump has invoked wartime powers, ordering General Motors to produce ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients. The move comes after Trump unloaded on the automaker for delaying production.

Trump’s order, signed on Friday, requires General Motors to “accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators,” per a White House statement. Previously, Trump had touted GM’s commitment to producing 40,000 ventilators in partnership with Ventec Life Systems, but after GM supposedly revised that number down to 6,000, Trump accused them on Friday of “wasting time.”

“Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive,” Trump’s statement read. “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.”

Several hours earlier, Trump exploded at GM, demanding on Twitter that the automaker open its “stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio” and “START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!”

Also on rt.com ‘Open your STUPIDLY abandoned plant’: Trump lashes out at GM & Ford over ventilator delay

Trump also complained that the $1 billion price tag set by GM was too high, and reportedly approached other manufacturers this week to try and negotiate a better deal.

After Trump’s order, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will now dictate how many ventilators GM will manufacture.

Dating back to the outset of the Korean War, the Defense Production Act gives the White House power to order private industry to manufacture essential supplies for the federal government. Trump activated the law last week, but so far has been reluctant to use it, telling reporters as recently as Thursday that “we don’t need it.”

With cases of Covid-19 climbing almost to 100,000 in the US on Friday, governors have been pleading with Washington to provide ventilators – essential in keeping the most critical patients alive. New York’s Andrew Cuomo has called for more than 30,000 of the devices, as his state accounts for around half of all Covid-19 cases in the country. Louisiana’s John Edwards has also pleaded for more of the devices, after his state saw a tenfold increase in cases this week.

After signing off on the production order, Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill. While the bill allocates funding for hospitals and a once-off payment of $1,200 to most Americans, it also sets aside $500 billion for corporations, making it the biggest corporate bailout in American history.

Also on rt.com US Congress approves $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, sends to White House

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