January 22, 2021 - In statements issued this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated support for President Biden's decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and the National Association of Manufacturers supported use of the Defense Production Act in the fight against COVID-19.
The brief statement by Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber's Global Energy Institute, reads, "The Chamber welcomes President Biden’s action to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. It is critical that the United States restore its leadership role in international efforts to address the climate challenge. The Chamber and the business community look forward to engaging with the Administration as it considers a revised nationally determined contribution (NDC) for the United States."
Missouri Senator Roy Blunt joined 21 other U.S. Senators in signing a letter to President Trump dated May 25, 2017, citing withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement as a necessary step in unwinding the Clean Power Plan. That Obama-era plan would have had the biggest impact in states like Missouri that generate more than 80% of electricity using coal. Some also believe the impact of crippling regulations imposed on businesses in the United States does little in affecting global climate change, since American businesses have embraced energy efficiency and emissions reduction measures since the 1970's, dramatically reducing pollution in the United States.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) issued a press release January 21, 2021, backing President Biden's invocation of the "Defense Production Act to spur production of critical materials like N95 masks, swabs and other vaccine- and virus-related equipment."
The Defense Production Act (DPA) originated during times of war and gives federal government agencies the authority to require private businesses to give priority to government contracts in addressing emergencies and may be used to require companies to manufacture certain equipment. For example, then-President Trump used the DPA to attempt to force automakers to make more ventilators, even as they were ramping up production of those ventilators. You may read more about the DPA in this Congressional Research Service report dated March 20, 2020.
President Biden's Executive Order authorizes federal agencies to report on the availability of pandemic supplies and "take steps to address the pricing of pandemic response supplies..." The Executive Order states, "Where a review and assessment described in section 2(a)(i) of this order identifies shortfalls in the provision of pandemic response supplies, the head of the relevant agency shall:
(i) promptly revise its operational assumptions and planning factors being used to determine the scope and prioritization, acquisition, and distribution of such supplies; and
(ii) take appropriate action using all available legal authorities, including the Defense Production Act, to fill those shortfalls as soon as practicable by acquiring additional stockpiles, improving distribution systems, building market capacity, or expanding the industrial base."