In New Letter, Schumer Calls On President Trump To Designate A Senior Military Officer As "Czar" For Both Production And Distribution Of Desperately Needed Medical Equipment; Schumer Says Present Personnel Not Up To The Job

April 2, 2020

In New Letter, Leader Schumer Calls For Designation Of Senior Military Officer To Lead And Implement A Government-Wide Plan For Increased Production, Procurement, And Distribution Of Critical Medical Devices And Equipment 

Leader Schumer Says Inadequacy Of Administration’s Response Hurting Americans And Requires Immediate Action;  Well-Documented Shortages Of Medical Equipment Beyond Acute In NY And Other Hard-Hit Areas, And Expected Soon In Other Parts Of The County

Leader Schumer To President Trump: Immediately Appoint Military Officer To Lead Production And Distribution Of Critically Needed Medical Equipment

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today sent a letter to President Trump calling on the administration to immediately appoint a senior military officer to complete and rapidly implement a government-wide plan for the increased production, procurement and distribution of critically-needed medical devices and equipment, with full and complete authority under the Defense Production Act (DPA).

Leader Schumer emphasizes that as the coronavirus spreads rapidly and its toll grows more severe, a state of affairs further compounded by the administration’s tardy and inadequate response to the crisis, the immediate appointment of  a senior military officer to help remedy the country’s well-documented shortage of protective equipment, tests, and medical supplies is paramount.

Leader Schumer’s Letter to President Trump can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. President:

As the Coronavirus spreads rapidly into every corner of our nation and its terrible, grim toll grows more severe with each passing day, the tardiness and inadequacy of this Administration’s response to the crisis becomes more painfully evident.  Well-documented shortages of protective equipment, tests, and medical supplies are now beyond acute in my home state of New York and other hard-hit areas, and similar shortages are expected soon in many other parts of our country.  

While companies that volunteer to produce ventilators and PPE are to be commended and are appreciated, America cannot rely on a patchwork of uncoordinated voluntary efforts to combat the awful magnitude of this pandemic. It is long past the time for your Administration to designate a senior military officer to fix this urgent problem. 

That officer should be given full authority under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to complete and rapidly implement a plan for the increased production, procurement and distribution of critically-needed medical devices and equipment. 

The existing federal leadership void has left America with an ugly spectacle in which States and cities are literally fending for themselves, often in conflict and competition with each other, when trying to procure precious medical supplies and equipment. The only way we will fix our PPE and ventilator shortage is with a data-driven, organized and robust plan from the federal government. Anything short of that will inevitably mean this problem will remain unsolved and prolong this crisis.

As it stands today, you have charged Dr. Peter Navarro, an academic economist, to be the leader of this effort. With all due respect to Dr. Navarro, whose expertise is in other areas, he is woefully unqualified for this task.  The existence of a separate “shadow” effort elsewhere in the White House, led by equally inexperienced and unqualified people, has made the Administration’s response even more confused and uncoordinated.

As you may know, there are many logistics professionals in the United States military. These are trained experts who have spent their careers ensuring that every service member from the foxhole to headquarters have everything they need in peacetime and wartime, regardless of whether they are in the middle of a desert; at sea; or providing support to civilian authorities in the wake of a natural disaster. The crisis our nation is in the midst of today demands this kind of seasoned expertise immediately.

It must also be pointed out that while you continue to dismiss the Defense Production Act as not being needed, it is clear that the capacity of American industry has not yet been fully harnessed, either in prioritizing and allocating urgently needed medical supplies and equipment, in rapidly expanding domestic manufacturing efforts to produce them, or in providing certainty to manufacturers—through purchase orders, purchase guaranties, or other mechanisms -- that the US will use and distribute all of the medical equipment and supplies they can produce.  This is a failure that must be addressed quickly for the sake of our health care professionals and the people that are vulnerable to and already sick with this deadly disease.

This is a matter of the utmost urgency for the health of every American. Regrettably, our national response is far behind where it should be. But by acting now, there is still time to help protect our medical professionals, reduce suffering and save lives.

Sincerely,  

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