[guest post by Dana]
This morning, President Trump referred to himself as a “wartime” president and said that he will invoke the 1950 wartime law known as the Defense Production Act in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic:
The act ensures the private sector can ramp-up manufacturing and distribution of emergency medical supplies and equipment. The move gives the White House the authority to increase production of masks, ventilators and respirators, as well as expand hospital capacity to combat the coronavirus.
Asked if he saw the nation as being on a wartime footing he said he did and described himself as “in a sense a wartime president.”
Earlier this morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer had called on the President to mobilize “as if it were a time of war” when it comes to medical equipment/supplies.
About the Defense Production Act:
The Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950 (P.L. 81-774, 50 U.S.C. Appx §2061 et seq.), as amended, confers upon the President a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense. The authorities can be used across the federal government to shape the domestic industrial base so that, when called upon, it is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for the national defense.
Though initially passed in response to the Korean War, the DPA is historically based on the War Powers Acts of World War II. Gradually, Congress has expanded the term national defense, as defined in the DPA, so that it now includes activities related to homeland security and domestic emergency management. The scope of DPA authorities extends beyond shaping U.S. military preparedness and capabilities, as the authorities may also be used to enhance and support domestic preparedness, response, and recovery from natural hazards, terrorist attacks, and other national emergencies.
President Trump also said he would be invoking a provision that allows limiting certain people from crossing the southern border (including asylum seekers):
“The answer’s yes,” Trump told reporters when asked about the code, adding that he plans to invoke it “very soon. Probably today.”
The administration will invoke 42 U.S. Code 265, a section of the federal legal code that states the U.S. surgeon general “shall have the power to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons and property from such countries or places as he shall designate in order to avert such danger, and for such period of time as he may deem necessary for such purpose.”
While the president told reporters that the administration would not be closing the U.S.-Mexico border, he did add that “… we’re invoking a certain provision that will allow us great latitude.”