Asks if White House involved in FEMA changing public statement about utilizing Act to secure desperately-needed medical protective gear and coronavirus testing kits


Washington (March 25, 2020) – As nurses and doctors in Massachusetts and all across the country are forced to sanitize, re-use, or go without key equipment like respirator masks, today Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) why it changed its statement regarding the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to acquire critically needed coronavirus testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE), and if the White House was responsible for FEMA’s about-face. Yesterday, FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor was quoted as saying that the Trump administration would imminently “use the allocation portion of the DPA” for 60,000 coronavirus test kits and would “insert some [DPA] language into these mask contracts we have of 500 million masks.”  Then, late yesterday, a FEMA spokesperson stated that “at the last minute” FEMA had been “able to procure the test kits from the private market without evoking [sic] the DPA.” In his letter, Senator Markey asks for clarification on the contradictory remarks, as well as if and how FEMA and the Trump administration intend to use the DPA to address the dire shortage of ventilators, test kits, and PPE such as respirators.


“It is entirely unclear whether, and if so, how, FEMA and this Administration are intending to use the DPA, even as the chorus of pleas for its invocation from around the country grow louder with each passing day,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to FEMA Administrator Gaynor.


A copy of the letter can he found HERE


In his letter, Senator Markey requests response to question, including:

  • Why did your spokesperson walk back your announcement of FEMA’s invocation of the DPA?
  • If FEMA is still purchasing the 500 million masks, when will they be allocated and distributed, to whom, and on what basis?
  • If FEMA is still obtaining the 60,000 test kits, when will they be allocated and distributed, to whom, and on what basis?
  • What is the source of the 60,000 test kits to which you referred? Do these 60,000 test kits include all reagents, swabs, and other supplies needed to properly conduct COVID-19 tests?
  • Is FEMA still purchasing 500 million masks? If so, under what contracts? How many, if any, of those masks are N95 respirators?
  • Is FEMA planning to use DPA Title I authorities for any other medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including face shields, gowns, gloves, and ventilators?
  • Is FEMA planning to use DPA Title III authorities to encourage private sector investment in additional production capacity?