14 House Members, Led by Levin, Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Calling for Aggressive Use of the Defense Production Act for COVID-19 Response

March 23, 2020
Press Release

Seven House Democrats and seven House Republicans, led by Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09), today introduced a resolution urging the president to make quick and effective use of the Defense Production Act to respond to COVID-19 and meet the critical supply needs of the health care system to save American lives during the greatest public health crisis in a century.

The members leading the resolution are Reps. Andy Levin (MI-09),  Don Bacon (NE-02), Steve Chabot (OH-01), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Katie Porter (CA-45), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Van Taylor (TX-03), and Fred Upton (MI-04).

“President Trump said he would use the Defense Production Act in the worst case scenario—we’re there, Mr. President” Rep. Levin said. “Frontline health care workers are already treating patients without the personal protective equipment they need, some falling victim to the virus themselves. A nurse in my district described her ER as a ‘war zone’ in the fight for masks, everyone given one per shift. Soon, our health care workers will be battling for their patients to get the one ventilator available. We cannot wait for that day to come.”

“Promises from a podium do not translate into results on the ground, and the lack of a strategic federal response to equipment shortages in our local hospitals is beyond unacceptable. The administration must use the Defense Production Act’s powers to come to the immediate aid of our healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis,” Rep. Spanberger said. “Throughout the past week, I’ve had personal conversations with hospital administrators in our district who lack the supply of personal protective equipment they need to keep our doctors and nurses safe in the weeks and months to come. They are deeply concerned for their employees, and they are alarmed by the potential effects on patients. As Virginia sees a rapid rise in coronavirus cases, the lives of our neighbors are hanging in the balance. We need to see clear targets and timelines for mask and ventilator production, because we cannot afford to jeopardize the lives of our community’s heroes in this moment of unprecedented uncertainty.”

"I have said from the beginning that we need all hands on deck, and the bipartisan resolution we introduced today urges the President to use the Defense Production Act to ensure we as a nation unleash the stockpile of supplies to help health care workers and save lives," Rep. Upton said. "The bottom line is that we need to get more Personal Protective Equipment to our medical community who are on the front lines working to keep our nation safe. It should also be noted that the DPA does not nationalize businesses, as some suggest. It does, however, allow the government to direct businesses to make certain supplies that are desperately needed in our fight against the coronavirus. The companies would remain private. Let’s be clear, to address this generational crisis, we need to use every single tool in the tool box."

“The Defense Production Act exists for situations exactly like this one, where an organized response from industry is vital to national security,” Rep. Porter said. “The repeated delays by the Administration make Congressional action an imperative. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to ensure that the federal government properly uses the DPA to secure necessary medical supplies for the COVID-19 response.”

"The President must implement the Defense Production Act immediately,” Rep. Lieu said. “We can't wait any longer - we need protective equipment and ventilators to fight the COVID-19 outbreak now. We've seen some companies and individuals step up to manufacture needed equipment, and though that's appreciated, we still don't have nearly enough supplies to address the crisis in front of us. This is a matter of life and death and the President must act accordingly to make sure our healthcare workers have what they need to save lives."

“This is an unprecedented moment for our nation - a threat unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes. In order to succeed in slowing the spread and saving lives we must ensure the nurses, doctors, and first responders on the frontlines of this pandemic have the tools and gear they need to get the job done,” Rep. Van Taylor said. “Utilizing the Defense Production Act can help increase production so that we can meet the equipment needs of our healthcare providers.”

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis,” Rep. DeGette said. “This administration needs to invoke its powers under the Defense Production Act immediately to help provide our health care workers with the life-saving equipment they need to protect themselves and provide patients the care they need. If we don’t act fast, thousands of health care workers could soon be at risk of contracting this virus. If our doctors and nurses aren’t available to care for us, who will?”

The resolution calls on the president to immediately share with Congress plans for the use of the Defense Production Act authorities, including targets and timelines to produce supplies needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the results of the ongoing use of these authorities. The resolution also states that the House stands ready to make additional appropriations available to meet the needs of Defense Production Act invocation.

On March 13, 2020, nearly 60 House members from across the country called on President Trump to invoke the DPA and increase the availability of vital medical supplies through a letter led by Rep. Levin.