WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai'i), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in sending a letter to the Chamber of Commerce demanding answers as to why the organization is lobbying against President Trump's use of the Defense Production Act – an extraordinarily powerful tool that would allow him to quickly harness and use America's technological and manufacturing might to address this public health crisis and provide needed equipment for hospitals, health care providers, and first responders. Their letter asks the Chamber to cease their lobbying efforts against measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic and place the economic and public health needs of hundreds of millions of American families above its members.
"This report, if true, is shameful, revealing that the Chamber is actively working against efforts to address the urgent national COVID-19 pandemic, and is placing the short-term desires of its members above the economic and public health needs of hundreds of millions of American families," wrote the senators. "You owe the public an explanation for this behavior. We urge you to cease your lobbying efforts against measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic."
The Chamber's actions come as the pandemic grows exponentially, and as millions of Americans are putting their health at risk to provide medical care, and stock and deliver food, cleaning supplies, and the basics of everyday life to American families under "shelter in place" requirements.
President Trump publicly stated that he would not use his powers under the Defense Production Act, incorrectly claiming that companies were voluntarily "making so many products" as an explanation for his refusal to act. However, the New York Times reported on Sunday that, "the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the heads of major corporations have lobbied the administration against using the act. ...Mr. Trump and the director of his national economic council, Larry Kudlow, as well as Mr. Kushner, were persuaded by those arguments."
This week Murphy, along with U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), announced the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, legislation to force President Trump to implement the Defense Production Act of 1950 and federalize the manufacture and distribution of scarce in-demand medical supplies.
A text of the letter can be found here and below.