Last week, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Product Act (DPA) to ensure the domestic production of ventilators as supplies dwindled with rising coronavirus hospitalizations.
The president’s April 2 order directs the secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to “use any and all authority available under the Act to facilitate the supply of materials to the appropriate subsidiary or affiliate of the following entities for the production of ventilators: General Electric Company; Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc.; Medtronic Public Limited Company; ResMed Inc.; Royal Philips N.V.; and Vyaire Medical, Inc.”
The DPA, enacted in 1950 at the start of the Korean War, confers upon the president the authority to mobilize domestic industry to best supply critical infrastructure in the event of a crisis. This is the fourth time it’s been used since the law was enacted. The chart below from National Journal gives an overview of the DPA.
The president has been reluctant to take a more broad-based approach to utilizing the DPA, instead relying on state resources and companies volunteering their efforts to provide PPE and medical equipment. However, as pressure on those resources mount, the administration may be forced to issue additional orders under the act.