Trump Invokes Defense Production Act, Orders GM to Produce Ventilators

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump speaks with Vice President Mike Pence as they arrive for a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Friday afternoon President Trump “signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary 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.”

As referenced in the President’s statement, the administration had been “negotiati[ng] with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators” but, Trump said, “the fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time.”

That was a far more diplomatic tone than Trump took earlier Friday, when he fired off a series of tweets calling out GM for stalling and wanting “top dollar,” and said he’d be invoking “P,” which he clarified meant the Defense Production Act.

On March 20 GM issued a joint press release with device manufacturer Ventec, announcing a partnership to manufacture ventilators:

“Ventec will leverage GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more of their critically important ventilators.”

GM’s main contribution seems to be helping Ventec beef up its supply chain. Like other automakers, GM sits at the apex of a vast network of suppliers, some of which have sophisticated manufacturing capabilities. GM is working to connect Ventec with suppliers who can supply scarce parts, allowing Ventec to boost output.

The ventilators will be manufactured at GM’s Kokomo, Indiana plant.

Ford is partnering with GE Healthcare and 3M to produce ventilators, respirators, and face shields:

“Ford and GE Healthcare are working together to expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing caused by COVID-19,” Ford said in a press release. “These ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.”

Ford says that “work on this initiative ties to a request for help from US government officials.”

Ford is also planning to manufacture other medical equipment, including respirators (in partnership with 3M) and face shields.

Today’s announcement follows the news that U.K.-based Dyson designed an entirely new ventilator system and, working under a grant from the U.K. government, will be producing 15,000 of them in the next month.