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Trump, Invoking Cold War Authority, Enjoins GM To Build Ventilators

President Trump ordered General Motors and health care vendor Ventec to begin producing ventilators on Friday, invoking a Cold War-era law that grants him such authority.

Trump, who complained earlier on Friday about what he called problems with GM and its CEO, Mary Barra, said in a statement that the automaker was taking too long to conclude the deal.

"GM was wasting time," Trump said. The need is too urgent, he said, for "the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course."

Trump's order to GM and Ventec came in the form of an authorization to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, which would "require General Motors Company to accept, perform, and prioritize contracts or orders for the number of ventilators that the secretary determines to be appropriate."

GM said Friday that it's on the case.

"Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for over a week to meet this urgent need," the company said. "The entire GM team is proud to support this initiative."

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Philip Ewing is an election security editor with NPR's Washington Desk. He helps oversee coverage of election security, voting, disinformation, active measures and other issues. Ewing joined the Washington Desk from his previous role as NPR's national security editor, in which he helped direct coverage of the military, intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and more. He came to NPR in 2015 from Politico, where he was a Pentagon correspondent and defense editor. Previously, he served as managing editor of Military.com, and before that he covered the U.S. Navy for the Military Times newspapers.
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