The Defense Production Act isn't the rarely used, last-resort power President Trump has made it out to be.
Trump officially invoked the Korean War-era mandate on Friday to compel General Motors to make ventilators to address a nationwide shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But for more than a week beforehand, Trump acted like invoking the DPA to force production of government necessities was a big deal and held out on doing so — even though he'd used it "hundreds of thousands of times" throughout his presidency, The New York Times reports.
While he originally signed the DPA in mid-March, Trump clarified in a follow-up tweet that he would only "invoke it in a worst case scenario." A week after that, Trump tweeted that "we haven't had to use" the act "because no one has said no!" Companies had already switched their production lines to make direly needed masks, Trump said, though lawmakers continued to push him to invoke the DPA until he did last week.
But reports submitted to Congress and interviews with former government officials show using the DPA was nothing new for Trump, per the Times. The Defense Department has reportedly used it over 300,000 times each year, including to obtain "rare Earth metals" to build lasers last summer. It all led Larry Hall, the recently retired director of the DPA program division at FEMA, to question "What's more important? Building an aircraft carrier or a frigate using priority ratings or saving a hundred thousand lives using priorities for ventilators?"
On Thursday, President Trump held his first rally since House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against him two weeks ago, and he spent time targeting lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) while also telling supporters he's locked in a battle with "the swamp."
"They want to erase your vote like it never existed," he said to the crowd inside Minneapolis' Target Center. "They want to erase your voice, and they want to erase your future." He accused Democrats of trying to "overthrow our government," and promised that he won't lose Minnesota in 2020 like he did in 2016. "We are going to win this state," he said.
Trump insulted Pelosi's intelligence, Omar's patriotism, and former Vice President Joe Biden's ability to govern, and while some supporters started chanting "Lock him up!" in reference to Biden, protesters outside shouted the same thing, with Trump the target. Lora Togerson, a registered Republican from Inver Grove Heights, told The Associated Press she has "never been more ashamed of our party. I didn't vote for him." She carried a sign that read, "Liar Liar Diaper on Fire." Catherine Garcia