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May 15, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (May 14, 2020) –Rep. Vargas (CA-51) introduced a bill that allows the president to exercise authorities of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to expedite the production, acquisition, and distribution of goods and materials needed to address the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The administration is responsible for providing additional emergency supplies for our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Rep. Vargas.  “My bill will help categorize medical supplies, equipment, and testing as necessary materials for national defense, ensuring that the American people can access the supplies they so desperately need." 

The specified medical materials include diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment, medical ventilators, and approved medicine for COVID-19 treatment.

“We are putting our heroes and frontline workers at risk without proper access to, and a higher level of production of, these necessary materials,” said Rep. Vargas.  “The president must utilize the full extent of his authority by invoking the Defense Production Act and ensuring every possible resource is dedicated to combating COVID-19.”

In addition, the bill will require the president to issue a series of public reports on how authorities of the DPA were used and an evaluation of the immediate and future need for materials to address the COVID-19 crisis.  The bill also requires a full explanation of purchases and contracts the administration has signed under the DPA.

“At this time, there is a lack of transparency in the administration’s actions under the DPA and an insufficient production of medical supplies to meet our nation’s demand,” said Rep. Vargas. “The Defense Production Act contains a set of sweeping and powerful authorities that the President can use in times of national emergency.  We need to make sure they are used properly and to their fullest extent.”

Vargas represents California’s 51st Congressional District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of Imperial County, and California’s entire U.S.-Mexico border. Vargas was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and is currently serving his fourth term in Congress.  He serves on the House Financial Services Committee.