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WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday ended nine days of equivocating over whether to deploy the Defense Production Act, announcing that he would use his presidential powers under the legislation to compel General Motors to produce ventilators for the U.S. medical system.
The White House released a statement by Trump saying he had signed a memorandum instructing the Department of Health and Human Services to “use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators.”
“Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, 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,” Trump said. “GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”
In a statement published on its website, GM affirmed its ability to meet the demand: “Depending on the needs of the federal government, Ventec and GM are poised to deliver the first ventilators next month and ramp up to a manufacturing capacity of more than 10,000 critical care ventilators per month with the infrastructure and capability to scale further.”
Less than 24 hours earlier, Trump had downplayed the need for the crucial medical equipment, which is used to help the most ill patients suffering from respiratory failure due to the coronavirus. Appearing on Fox News Thursday night, the president dismissed calls by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his state to receive 30,000 more ventilators on top of the 7,000 or so they currently have.
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