White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro confirmed Wednesday the administration is working on an executive order to eliminate the government’s reliance on foreign-made medical supplies.
The “Buy American” order comes on the heels of concerns expressed by senators during their Tuesday meeting with President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that during the meeting on easing coronavirus-related financial pressures on Americans, he asked Trump to support the Senate’s “efforts to invest in diversifying our supply chain, especially in pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.”
At yesterday’s lunch I asked @POTUS to support our efforts to invest in diversifying our supply chain, especially in pharmaceuticals & medical equipment.
He agreed & his team led by by Peter Navarro are also working on an EO to help address this. https://t.co/WlX7u158rV
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 11, 2020
The order would prevent federal agencies from purchasing medical supplies, including face masks, gloves and ventilators, from China.
As the United States has battled the domestic spread of coronavirus, consumers were alerted to the fact that China manufactures an overwhelming percentage of the federal government’s medical equipment. 90 percent of all U.S. antibiotics were manufactured in China.
China has prevented the export of surgical face masks, severely limiting supplies in the U.S. and countries around the world.
“China has managed to dominate all aspects of the supply chain using the same unfair trade practices that it has used to dominate other sectors — cheap sweatshop labor, lax environmental regulations and massive government subsidies,” Navarro told New York Times. “As President Trump has said, what we need to do is bring those jobs home so that we can protect the public health and the economic and national security of the country.”
He added that the EO would cover more than 400 “essential medicines” that “satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.” Additional products targeted in the order include “medical countermeasures” made to protect against chemical and biological threats, radiation, nuclear fallout and infectious diseases like coronavirus.
Peter Navarro tells @CBSNews the Trump admin is looking to tighten domestic procurement through a 3-pronged strategy: “Buy American,” streamlining regulations, & incentivizing new technologies. The EO targets “essential medicines,” “medical countermeasures,” & their supply chains
— Sara Cook (@saraecook) March 11, 2020
“Nothing we do now will impede in any way our ability to get what we need when we need it from foreign sources,” he told CBS.
Navarro estimated the administration will announce the order in the coming weeks, adding that this is not just a medical issue but also blosters “our very national defense.”
Trump will address the nation Wednesday night to give updates on the task force’s latest efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus. In addition to the task force’s mitigation efforts, the White House has been working on a packaging a financial stimulus in recent days. (RELATED: Trump Administration Could Delay April 15 Tax Filing Deadline Over Coronavirus)