CLAIM: Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden suggested he was “the first” politician calling on President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) in response to the Chinese coronavirus crisis.
VERDICT: FALSE. Biden did not call for the DPA to be invoked until President Trump had already invoked the authority.
“When it got up to March, I kept saying, ‘Look, you’ve got to invoke’ — and you’ll remember, I think I was the first; I may be mistaken — person calling about the Defense Production Act,” Biden said during a campaign stop on Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware.
“We don’t have enough of … it’s amazing we use a phrase like ‘PPE’ and the public knows what that is now, but protective equipment and gear and ventilators,” Biden said. “Use the authority to go out there now and don’t wait and don’t wait to talk about the need for us to have masks…”
Despite Biden’s claim, he was not the first politician to call for the DPA to be invoked, and he only suggested the action after Trump invoked the authority through executive order.
On February 28, before economic shutdowns hit the United States due to the coronavirus crisis, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hinted that the administration was considering invoking the DPA to surge production of vital medical equipment and gear.
Then, as FactCheck.org notes, on March 18, Trump invoked the DPA. Minutes later, Biden released a statement demanding Trump invoke the DPA — the first time Biden ever mentioned the authority: “Biden did not mention the Defense Production Act in the Democratic debate on March 15, where he encouraged viewers to see his full, detailed plan to combat COVID-19 on his campaign website. Nor does that plan, which was initially posted to the campaign website on March 12, mention the Defense Production Act.”
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.