President Donald Trump was never one with high regard for the limits of his executive authority. Yet when people first floated the idea of using the 1950 Defense Production Act (DPA) to force private sector businesses to prioritize orders from the federal government for masks, ventilators, and other gear, the idea gave Trump a moment’s pause.
“We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business,” Trump said at a March 2020 press conference. “Call a person over in Venezuela; ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out. Not too well.”
It didn’t last, and Trump did eventually sign a declaration invoking the DPA. But if you think it was a stretch to respond to a pandemic with a law designed to ensure the military can access supplies during wartime, wait ’til you find out the ways Trump’s successor has been using it.
The production of vaccines? Check.
Rare minerals needed for electric car batteries? Check.