Coronavirus: Trump finally activates DPA emergency measures, ordering GM to produce ventilators

Coronavirus: Trump finally activates DPA emergency measures, ordering GM to produce ventilators


Coronavirus: Trump finally activates DPA emergency measures, ordering GM to produce ventilators 1

Donald Trump is activating the Defence Production Act to compel General Motors to begin building ventilators as areas try to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The president also signed a $2.2 trillion economic stabilisation bill known as the CARES act into law hours after the House approved it, as Washington aims to head off an economic disaster with millions seeking government jobless benefits.

The president made the move before signing a the massive bill into law, even though he told Fox News in a Thursday night interview he doubts governor Andrew Cuomo‘s claim his state needs 30,000 to 40,000 ventilators.


Earlier on Friday, he used all capital letters in part of a tweet to slam the company for not simply abiding by his rhetorical demands they start making the machines.

He has declared the country on a war footing against Covid-19, which he calls “the invisible enemy.”

The president took the bold step of forcing a US company into action despite downplaying the severity and potential spread of the disease. He wants to start opening parts of the locked down country by Easter Sunday (12 April).

Before the president signed the economic recovery bill, a group of Republican lawmakers and members of his coronavirus task force lavished praise upon him in the Oval Office.

The massive CARES Act started as a draft plan among Republicans controlling the Senate who were seeking a greater voice in the coronavirus response efforts – especially after Democratic house speaker Nancy Pelosi was a dominant force in earlier legislation imposing a sick leave mandate on businesses.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, welcomed Democratic participation a week ago, and signed off on a major expansion of unemployment insurance, but his efforts to freeze out Ms Pelosi and force a quick agreement were met with Democratic demands for large infusions of aid to states and hospitals, as well as an assortment of smaller items. 

Mr McConnell and top senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York wrestled for days, along with treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

Negotiations finally produced a deal early Wednesday morning, and the senate passed the measure by a 96-0 vote.

The legislation dwarfs prior Washington responses to crises like 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and natural disasters.

Key elements are untested, such as grants to small businesses to keep workers on payroll and complex lending programs to larger businesses. Rebate payments will go to people who have retained their jobs. Agencies like the Small Business Administration and state unemployment systems will be severely taxed, and conservatives fear that a new, generous unemployment benefit will dissuade jobless people from returning to the workforce.

The bill amounts to a bridge loan for much of the economy and carries a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion (£3.2tn)-plus annual federal budget.

The legislation also establishes a $454bn program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries in hopes of leveraging up to $4.5 trillion in lending to distressed businesses, states, and municipalities.

There is also $150bn devoted to the health care system, including $100bn for grants to hospitals and other health care providers buckling under the strain of Covid-19 caseloads.

It also seeks to strengthen the safety net for the poor and homeless. Schools and students would get relief, small business loans payments would be deferred. Evictions from public housing would be put on pause.

Republicans successfully pressed for an employee retention tax credit designed to help companies keep workers on payroll. Companies would also be able to defer payment of the 6.2 per cent Social Security payroll tax. A huge tax break for interest costs and operating losses limited by the 2017 tax overhaul was restored at a $200bn cost in a boon for the real estate sector.

Additional reporting by agencies


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