1 1 (March 18, 2020)

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               Researh Sevice

The Defense Production Act (DPA) and

COVID-19: Key Authorities and Policy


Updated March 18, 2020

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic evolves, the United States faces drug and medical supply
scarcities due to disrupted supply chains and increased demand. In response, the President may exercise
emergency authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA; 50 U.S.C. 4501 et seq.) to
address supply shortages and economic development impacts. During a press conference on March 18,
2020, the President indicated that he would invoke the DPA to address domestic essential goods and
materials shortages caused by the pandemic. This Insight considers the various DPA authorities that may
be used going forward and explores potential policy considerations for Congress.
For more information on the health and epidemiological aspects of COVID- 19, see CRS Report R46219,
Overview of U.S. Domestic Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and CRS In Focus
IF 11421, CO VID-19: Global Implications and Responses.

DPA Provisions and Recent Use

The DPA confers broad presidential authorities to mobilize domestic industry in service of the national
defense, defined in statute as various military activities and homeland security, stockpiling, space, and
any directly related activity (50 U.S.C. 4552) including emergency preparedness activities under the
Stafford Act, which has been used for public health emergencies. Many of these authorities are delegated
to executive agencies under Executive Order 13603.
Current DPA authorities include, but are not limited to:
       Title I: Priorities and Allocations, which allows the President to require persons
       (including businesses and corporations) to (1) prioritize and accept government contracts
       for materials and services, and (2) allocate or control the general distribution of materials,
       services, and facilities as necessary to promote the national defense. Title I prioritization
       authorities are regularly utilized by the Department of Defense (DOD) to acquire critical

                                                               Congressional Research Service

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