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FEMA Head Says Administration Will Use Defense Production Act to Obtain 60,000 Coronavirus Tests

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Administrator Peter Gaynor testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 3, 2019. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

The Trump administration will invoke the Defense Production Act for the first time on Tuesday as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced.

“We’re actually going to use the DPA for the first time today. There are some test kits we need to get our hands on,” FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor said on CNN.

The administration will use the “allocation portion” of the law to obtain 60,000 coronavirus test kits, Gaynor said.

“We want to be thoughtful about not upsetting the balance, making sure that we can get it onto the market and the federal government not consume it all,” the FEMA chief added.

The Defense Production Act, enacted in 1950, allows the federal government to order private companies to meet the needs of the national defense in times of emergencies such as war, the aftermath of terrorist attacks, and natural disasters.

“We’re going to use it, we’re going to use it when we need it, and we’re going to use it today,” Gaynor said.

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