Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has called on President Donald Trump to use the Defence Production Act powers immediately.
"Right now, shortages of critical medical and personal protective equipment are harming our ability to fight the coronavirus epidemic, endangering frontline workers and making it harder to care for those who fall ill," Pelosi said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters.
"The President must immediately use the powers of the Defense Production Act to mass produce and coordinate distribution of these critical supplies before the need worsens and the shortages become even more dire," she added.
Earlier this week, President Trump announced that he would invoke the Defence Production Act if necessary.
"We will have it all completed, signed in just a little while. Right after I am finished with this conference, I’ll be signing it. it’s prepared to go," Trump said during a press conference.
The Defence Production Act was first enacted by the US in 1950 during the Korean War amid concerns about supplies and equipment. It has been invoked dozens of times since then when the federal government had to address various emergencies such as military conflicts, terrorism prevention and hurricanes. The act authorises the federal government to instruct private companies to meet national defence needs.