President Trump signed Friday a presidential decree requiring GM to make ventilators and to prioritize federal contracts, just hours after the auto manufacturer introduced plans to make the crucial medical tools for patients affected by COVID-19.
The decree, issued under the Defense Production Act, highlights a sudden reversal by Trump, who has lauded the efforts by GM and other producers to attempt to increase the manufacturing of ventilators and personal protective equipment that’s in short supply as COVID-19 infections continue to rise.
GM and its associate Ventec Life Systems had already introduced plans to begin manufacturing the ventilators “at cost,” regardless of the lack of a federal contract. The order would push GM to prioritize federal contracts, which would stop the auto manufacturer from offering to states.
Earlier Friday, GM stated it might start manufacturing Ventec Life Systems ventilators even as a purchase order with the federal government remained in limbo. The businesses said Friday that the ventilators shall be built at GM’s engine factory in Kokomo, Ind., employing about 1,000 workers.
The GM and Ventec announcement followed sharp criticism by Trump through several tweets that blasted GM and its CEO and chair Mary Barra via Twitter, accusing the company of falling short of its promised capability and asking for “top greenback,” a term that seems to imply the auto manufacturer was attempting to profit off of the contract.