Coronavirus appointment: Trump names Peter Navarro Defense Production Act coordinator

Navarro praised Ford and GE the same day GM felt Trump's ire

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After signing a massive $2.2 trillion coronavirus pandemic relief and stimulus package Friday, President Trump announced that he’s appointed White House trade adviser Peter Navarro as national Defense Policy Act coordinator.

Navarro’s appointment came the same day the White House announced that Trump had invoked the wartime law to require General Motors to prioritize ventilator production.

“He’s a tremendous guy and he will do a fantastic job,” Trump said.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who will now serve as National Defense Production Act policy coordinator, speaks about the coronavirus Friday as President Donald Trump listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WHAT IS THE DEFENSE PROTECTION ACT AND WHEN HAS IT BEEN USED?

The president bashed GM during a coronavirus task force press conference, saying the automaker hadn’t been cooperative enough in its pivot to produce ventilators for a medical equipment company.

“We thought we had a deal for 40,000 ventilators, and then all of a sudden it became 6 [thousand], and price became an issue,” Trump said.

The president’s comments and the DPA announcement came after GM said it was dedicating two factories to produce Ventec Life Systems VOSCN ventilators. GM said it would be able to build as many as 200,000 ventilators after reconfiguring its supply chain.

General Motors and Ventec Life Systems are partnering to convert the GM Kokomo, Indiana, ERC building for the production of Ventec ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (GM)

GM ADDS SECOND FACTORY FOR CORONAVIRUS VENTILATOR PRODUCTION

Trump told reporters that cost became a "problem" in talks between officials and the companies.

“They weren’t talking the right way at the beginning, and that’s just not right to the country,” Trump said.

The announcement of the implementation of the DPA by the White House came after the GM press release.

For its part, GM told FOX Business, “We have put together a massive supply chain to produce 700-plus parts in very high volume, we are standing up production lines at our electronics plant in Kokomo and we are hiring employees.”

Trump also criticized GM for building plants outside the U.S. and closing its former Lordstown, Ohio, facility. Trump suggested that the factory could also be used for ventilators, though GM has since sold it to an electric vehicle maker.

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WHO MAKES VENTILATORS AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GET THEM?

The president said U.S. businesses were preparing to produce more than 100,000 ventilators over the next 100 days, a figure he said would be more than three times what the U.S. typically produces in a year.

Navarro said the use of the DPA is “accelerating and enhancing” production.

“We need industrial mobilization in order to make adequate ventilators,” Navarro said.

The economist praised other manufacturers like Ford and GE, which he said were “patriotically moving as fast as possible.”

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