Over the past few weeks, nearly a dozen large meat processing plants have closed their doors due to widespread coronavirus among employees. Thousands of workers have become infected and at the time of publication, at least 20 have died. At the same time, President Trump is invoking the Defense Production Act.
Over the decades, the law’s powers have been understood to encompass not only times of war but also domestic emergency preparedness and recovery from terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
What is the Defense Production Act?
The act, which was officially passed in the 1950s, give the government power over private industries.
The act authorizes the president to require companies to prioritize government contracts and orders seen as necessary for the national defense, with the goal of ensuring that the private sector is producing enough goods needed to meet a war effort or other national emergency.
It also authorizes the president to use loans, direct purchases and other incentives to boost the production of critical goods and essential materials. Other provisions authorize the federal government to establish voluntary agreements with private industry and to block foreign mergers and acquisitions seen as harmful to national security