WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on President Donald Trump to speed up mass production of medical and protective equipment using the Defense Production Act, citing shortages in the country.
“Right now, shortages of critical medical and personal protective equipment are harming our ability to fight the coronavirus epidemic, endangering frontline workers and making it harder to care for those who fall ill,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“The President must immediately use the powers of the Defense Production Act to mass produce and coordinate distribution of these critical supplies, before the need worsens and the shortages become even more dire.”
Trump signed the act on Wednesday, but Pelosi’s statement said the president had not yet invoked the authorities needed to accelerate production of medical equipment.
“We know what the demands of this time are, and we must act now to meet these demands,” the House speaker told Trump in a letter that accompanied the statement.
Pelosi’s statement emerged as the U.S. Senate scrambled to produce a massive stimulus package to shore up the U.S. economy in the face of the growing outbreak. Lawmakers say the Senate could vote on the legislation over the weekend.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)