With growing concerns over the dearth of emergency medical supplies to combat the novel COVID-19 coronavirus, President Donald Trump wants to bolster his “Buy American” agenda by issuing an executive order aimed at suppressing foreign imports and increasing domestic production of medications, equipment, and vaccines, the Daily Beast reported Thursday.
The executive order was initially proposed by White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro (a.k.a. Ron Vara), a China-hawk who vigorously defended the president’s protracted trade war with the Chinese government that cost American importers more than $46 billion.
The Daily Beast obtained a copy of the draft order, which says it is the policy of the U.S. to “protect our citizens… against the outbreak of dangerous infectious diseases” and “restore the capabilities of our Public Health Industrial Base that are essential for the national defense and the development of production capabilities.”
“The draft executive order goes on to lay out U.S. policy as it relates to the supply chain of medical supplies, stating that the U.S. should ‘ensure sufficient, stable and reliable long term demand for essential medicines and medical countermeasures through domestic procurement policies,’” the report stated.
The order aims to eliminate time-consuming regulations on the production of domestic medicines while strictly applying domestic FDA regulations on similar imported products.
According to the report, President Trump explicitly signed off on the idea after Navarro pitched him personally – telling the former economics professor to work up a draft order despite aggressive push back from administration officials worried that the president would be enamored with promoting his own political platform.
“In an interagency meeting last week, representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other trade officials voiced their objections to Navarro, saying the executive order could create more harm than good by restricting the flow of medicines and other supplies needed to treat coronavirus patients,” two administration officials told the news outlet. They also noted that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and economic advisor Larry Kudlow stated their opposition to the proposal, arguing it could potentially exacerbate the economic problems already facing the nation.
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