WASHINGTON – Nearly a week after invoking his powers under a Korean War-era law to compel General Motors to manufacture ventilators for coronavirus, President Donald Trump’s administration has not formally ordered any of the machines, USA TODAY has learned.
As governors warn of severe shortages of ventilators, Trump has been hesitant to use his wartime powers to force companies to ramp up production under the Defense Production Act, arguing that such an order amounts to a takeover of private industry.
But Trump said Friday he would use the act to require General Motors to make ventilators after what he described as a dispute with the company over supply and pricing. Three administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told USA TODAY that the government is still exploring its options and has not yet placed an order under the Defense Production Act for any of the machines.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency "continues to work within its authorities to coordinate with the private sector," an agency spokesperson who declined to be identified said when asked about the lack of an order to GM. Federal agencies are "in the process of reviewing these delegated authorities," the person said.
General Motors declined to answer questions about Trump's use of the DPA but said in a statement it was "moving forward to build as many ventilators as we can as fast as we can."
The White House declined to comment.
Administration officials stressed that GM is still working to manufacture the ventilators and Trump has said he views the Defense Production Act more as a threat he can wield to nudge the companies along. But the president and his senior aides have repeatedly talked of using the law – only to later back away.