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Higgins, Peoples-Stokes, Kennedy Welcome First Mobilization of Defense Production Act, Say More Efforts Urgently Needed

Mar 24, 2020
Press Release
Federal and State Leaders Pushed for Federal Action to Produce & Distribute COVID-19 Supplies

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples, and State Senator Tim Kennedy are welcoming today’s announcement that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is putting the Defense Production Act (DPA) into action for the first time, since the DPA was authorized by Executive Order. The Western New York State and Federal leaders, who called for action yesterday, say this is a necessary first step but production must be ramped up quickly to keep people alive.

During a television interview today, FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor reported plans to use the DPA for the first time to acquire 60,000 test kits, and 500 million masks, still the nationwide need is much greater and increasing by the day. Today Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that FEMA is sending 400 ventilators to New York but the State expects to need 30,000.

Higgins said, “There is no time to wait.  This is life and death.  The Executive Order provided the federal government with the authority to immediately organize production of critical supplies for our hospitals and healthcare workers.  One week later, they are finally starting.  We are glad it is happening, but we need more action to deliver lifesaving supplies now.”

“This is literally a race against the clock to try to stem the tide of this deadly virus,” said Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes. “This action by FEMA is a major step toward getting health care providers the necessary test kits, gloves, gowns, and ventilators they need to fight the coronavirus. The federal government MUST act with a greater sense of urgency or we could be facing a catastrophic loss of lives across the state and right here in Western New York.”    

"While we’re pleased to see the Defense Production Act put into action, we need to move more aggressively to ensure New York’s frontline workers are properly prepared with the critical supplies, including thousands of ventilators and tests, that they desperately need to fully address this growing crisis,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy. “As a nation, we need to do everything possible to save lives, and we can only do that if this process is expedited.”

Higgins also wrote to the President and is a cosponsor of H.Res. 906, both call for mobilization of the Defense Production Act in response to COVID-19.

The Defense Production Act gives the President the authority to require or incentivize domestic manufacturers to expand the production and supply of critical materials and goods. The Administration can provide loans, loan guarantees, direct purchases and purchase commitments, and has the authority to procure and install equipment in private industrial facilities.  President Trump signed the Defense Production Act Executive Order on March 18, 2020, but did not order the production of emergency supplies prior to today’s announcement.