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