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Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that President Trump should "immediately" invoke the Defense Production Act to require U.S. companies to assemble medical equipment for health care workers fighting coronavirus.

Why it matters: Hospitals around the country lack medical equipment, like ventilators and respirators, as the number of Americans in need of treatment for the virus rises — and the wartime measure would ramp up production of the materials.

  • The U.S. has reported at least 164,610 cases and 3,170 deaths from the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

What she's saying: "We all come to this discussion with very heavy hearts about what we can do to prevent more of a spread of this," Pelosi said. "To the president, I would join those — whether it's the governors, mayors, people across the country — who are saying we need the equipment, the personal protective equipment, for the workers."

  • "The American people, their representatives, their officialdom, all the rest, are united in that recognition of that need. It will save lives. We're asking people to risk their lives to save other lives. We're asking people to make judgments about who gets a ventilator or not. That should not be happening."

The big picture: The act would authorize Trump to use his presidential powers to direct the private sector to produce medical supplies in the interest of national defense.

  • Trump used the act last week to order General Motors to build ventilators and accused it of "wasting time."
  • Other car manufacturers, like like Ford and Tesla, are partnering with existing ventilator manufacturers to see how they can help them expand production capacity.

Go deeper ... Defense Production Act: What you need to know

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

5 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.