President Trump lashed out at US automakers Friday and demanded they begin making ventilators to help hospitals cope with the pandemic. Hours after airing his complaints on social media, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to require that General Motors make the machines, reports the Washington Post. The act gives the president such powers in times of emergency. "Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course," Trump said in a statement. "GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives." Both the Hill and Politico note the change of tone from Thursday, when Trump suggested that states such as New York were exaggerating the need for ventilators.
In the morning, Trump had taken to Twitter. "General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!" Trump wrote
. "FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!" He had another tweet
for GM. "They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, 'very quickly'. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary," he wrote, a reference to CEO Mary Barra. The GM deal appears to be one the New York Times
reported about on Friday. The newspaper said the administration was poised to announce a venture between GM and Ventec Life Systems to churn out 80,000 ventilators. However, the announcement was canceled at the last minute because FEMA needed more time to assess the $1 billion price tag. GM was to convert an Indiana plant for the job.
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