Updated: Oct 16, 2021
On Jan. 22nd, President Joseph R. Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to aid in the fight against COVID-19. The executive order is one of the many he has signed during the early days of his presidency. Like former President Donald Trump, Biden was met with heavy pressure from Congress members to utilize the order.
How was the DPA Created?
The DPA was passed in 1950 during Harry Truman’s presidency. It was created to grant the president various temporary powers to intervene in the national economy to ensure or expedite the production of goods, services, and resources that were deemed necessary for the country’s safety. At the time, clashes around the Korean border led to the start of the Korean War, a war the United States entered to stop the spread of communism. Truman used the bill to quickly resize the military and U.S defense industries to prepare for war against North Korea. The leaders of the United States envisioned using the bill primarily during times of war. Now, the DPA is being invoked in an event far deadlier than any war the United States has been in since the Civil War.
How has the DPA been used to combat the Coronavirus?
Under the previous regime, Donald Trump used the DPA to order various companies to manufacture items that were in short supply. He compelled domestic manufacturers such as General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, and ResMed to secure the necessary supplies to create new ventilators. However, the administration used the DPA quite sparingly.
With the new administration, President Biden’s focus has been on increasing the distribution of vaccines and COVID-19 tests. Through the DPA, the White House plans to make at least sixty-one million Coronavirus tests available to the general public, as Biden’s team hopes to sign DPA contracts with six different diagnostic companies that aid in the distribution process. Regarding protective equipment, the administration aims to increase the production of raw materials for items such as masks and gloves.
The administration has also called for the need for more vials that hold vaccine doses, syringes, and the dry ice that is crucial for the transportation of the vaccine. The White House is using the DPA to give Pfizer, one of the first pharmaceutical companies to have the vaccine approved, increased access to components needed to make the vaccine. With the distribution process slower than expected, Biden’s usage of the DPA will be critical in shaping America’s recovery process from this devastating virus.
Through Teen Lenses: What are your thoughts on Biden invoking the Defense Production Act and his overall plan to combat COVID-19?
“I believe that his presidency is a nice change and it allows for our nation to deal with the virus in a more efficient manner. Compared to Trump’s response to COVID-19, it seems a lot more organized and much more cohesive. I don’t know much about the Defense Production Act, but I’ve heard that it accelerates the process of vaccines being distributed to the public, which is very welcoming to hear.” Sriman Sandireddy, 18, Freshman at University of Maryland, Rockville, MD
“I’m excited to hear about Biden invoking the Defense Production as I’ve heard that it can be beneficial during times of Emergency. I’m not familiar with all the details of Biden’s plan but I think they can really help our country. Since I haven’t been able to go out that much, I hope his plan accelerates the vaccines being sent out so I can live a somewhat normal life as soon as possible.” Aviv Eda, 16, Junior at Briar Woods High School, Ashburn, VA
“I think Biden has laid out a more detailed plan than Trump for the whole COVID-19 situation. I’m glad to hear that he invoked the Act because I’ve heard from the news that it could help lower the cases and distribute the vaccines to American citizens quicker. Hopefully, his plan can get us on the right track against the virus for the summer.” Ryan Meyer, 17, Senior at Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School, MD