President Trump elected to invoke rarely used emergency powers to consolidate critical medical supplies in an effort to more effectively fight the coronavirus pandemic yesterday. In the wake of that move, the U.S. Senate approved a controversial, bipartisan aid package supported by the president in order to guarantee sick leave to qualified workers who become ill[1].

The president used the Defense Production Act, a piece of legislation enacted 70 years ago in order to give the government the power to steer production during wartime, to gain authority to steer present-day production of masks, ventilators, and other COVID-19-related supplies. However, at present he said he is not using that authority.

“I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst-case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!” he tweeted.

Bipartisan Support, Bipartisan Concerns

The Senate passed the aid package in a 90-8 vote after several days of debate over whether or not the funds in the package would be well spent and effectively leveraged. At one point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the recommended course of action for the bill as “Gag, but then vote for it” in response to many republicans’ concerns that the funds in the bill were not being distributed in a productive way.

The bill will also make testing for the virus free, and its passage could pave the way for $500 billion in checks to go out to Americans on April 6, 2020, if Congress approves. President Trump also discounted U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s prediction that the nation could face 20 percent unemployment in the short term, calling it an “absolute worst-case scenario.”

Do you think that President Trump is right in his assessment of his position as a “wartime president”?

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