Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin has been a leading force in convincing President Donald Trump to use the federal government’s power to get private industry to produce the equipment America needs to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
Slotkin has used social media, traditional broadcast news, letters and her own bill to urge the president to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to speed up the production of items desperately needed to protect healthcare workers and save Americans suffering from COVID-19.
Under other circumstances, the act has been used to produce body armor, chemicals for warheads and even equipment for national disaster response. Now, it could be used to mass produce millions of masks, gowns, gloves and face shields to help protect the nation’s healthcare workers.
“The most urgent task for the federal government is to accelerate the flow of vital supplies to our front-line medical providers,” Slotkin said in a statement. “I would not ordinarily advocate for legislation telling the executive branch how to manage a crisis, but I cannot ignore the outcry from my district and my state. We need federal action now and if the President will not use his authorities I will do everything I can to push him to act.”
On March 24, Slotkin introduced a bipartisan bill that requires the president to use the powers outlined in the DPA, and specifically identify capacity in the private sector to produce at least 500 million N95 respirators, 20 million face shields and 500 million pairs of gloves among others.
Slotkin also wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence to urge him to increase the amount of personal protective equipment available to the states.
“Confusion has arisen as both states and the federal government attempt to rapidly secure PPE and testing supplies,” she wrote. “In the midst of this challenge, the federal government must ensure it communicates a clear chain command to the states and utilize a data-driven prioritization process to address states’ needs.”
Slotkin continues to push for additional supplies for medical workers.
“Would you send our military into war without body armor?” she asked in a tweet. “Our healthcare workers are on the front lines of this battle and we need to protect them so they can protect us.”