The federal government has been rolling out its response to the coronavirus crisis, trying to slow the spread and prop up the economy, which has taken a severe hit.
House lawmakers scrambled back to Washington Friday morning amid fears one GOP member of Congress would force a delay in the vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed unanimously by the Senate.
But early Friday afternoon the House passed the historic measure and sent it to President Donald Trump’s desk.
Within minutes of signing the bill, Trump touted the aid on Twitter.
An aide to House Speaker Pelosi confirms that she was not invited to the White House to participate in the signing ceremony.
The last time the two spoke was Oct. 16, 2019, roughly five months ago.
Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.
Here are Friday’s most significant developments in Washington:
- The House passed a $2 trillion relief measure and President Trump signed it
- House members scrambled back to Washington in expectation of a call for quorum, roll call vote
- President Trump uses the powers of the Defense Production Act for the first time
- Friday is the 12th day of the president’s 15-day guidelines to slow the spread
- President Trump, at the daily White House briefing, said he would decide whether to extend or modify the guidelines next week
Here are the latest developments in the government response:
Trump says he’s using powers of Defense Production Act
For the first time, Trump has issued an order to use the authorities granted to presidents by the Defense Production Act.
He signed a memo today to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar telling him to use authority granted by the act to requite General Motors to produce ventilators — after he threatened to do so earlier on Twitter.
“Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course,” Trump said in a written statement. “GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”
Trump said in the memo that Azar “shall use any and all authority available under the Act to require General Motors Company to accept, perform, and prioritize contracts or orders for the number of ventilators that the Secretary determines to be appropriate.”
While Trump has repeatedly threatened to use the DPA — and claimed he had “invoked” it several times — as far as it’s known he had not set in motion a process by which it would actually be used until now.
He opened the daily White House briefing on he government’s response Friday evening by elaborating on his use of the DPA, which several governors pressured him to do in the last week, with some criticizing the president for not utilizing it sooner.
“This invocation of the DPA should demonstrate clearly to all that we will not hesitate to use the full authority of the federal government to combat this crisis. We thought that we had a deal with, as an example, General Motors,” Trump said. “And I guess they thought otherwise. They didn’t agree. And now they do. They do agree.”
The president then announced that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro will serve as policy coordinator for the Defense Production Act, calling it a “very important position” before asking Navarro to speak.
“Over the last several days we ran into roadblocks with GM,” Navarro said, calling Trump a “wartime president” who takes action. “President Trump invoked the defense production act as a way of enhancing and accelerating this mobilization. I salute him for doing so.”
Overall, Trump said 100,000 ventilators made by several companies will ship out to states in need over the next three months or so.
“In the next 100 days — well, first of all, we’ve already delivered thousands of them, but within the next 100 days we will either make or get in some form over 100,000 additional units,” Trump said, adding that 100,000 was three times the number of ventilators normally made in the U.S. in a year.
“No effort will be spared in winning this war. We’re going to win the war. Hopefully we’ll win soon and with as few lives as possible lost,” the president said, as the reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. topped 100,000.
“If this should happen again — hopefully it won’t — but if a thing like this should happen again, we’ll be able to handle it very much more easily,” he said.
After calling Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, a “failed presidential candidate” who “leveled out at zero in the polls” and claiming Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “has no idea what’s going on,” President Trump was asked by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl what exactly he wanted from the nation’s governors in this time of crisis.
“All I want them to do — very simple — I want them to be appreciative. I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true. I want them to be appreciative. We’ve done a great job,” Trump said. When pressed further on a lack of communication between the White House and certain governors, the president said, “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call them.”
When Karl later asked the president if everybody who needs a ventilator will be able to get a ventilator, Trump refused to answer the question definitively.
“I think we’re in really good shape. This is a pandemic, the likes of which nobody’s seen before,” he said. “We’ve distributed vast numbers of ventilators, and we’re prepared to do vast numbers.” When pressed for an answer, Trump told Karl, “don’t be a cutie pie.”
“Everyone who needs one — nobody’s ever done what we’ve done. Nobody’s done what we’ve been able to do.” the president said.
Sources from: ABC News
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