U.S. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) this week criticized the Biden administration’s increasing abuse of and reliance on the Defense Production Act (DPA).
In a letter to President Biden, Ranking Member Toomey wrote:
“The repeated invocation of the DPA for non-defense purposes, such as mineral mining, baby food, solar panel components, heat pumps, and possibly now gasoline refining, is irresponsible. It disrupts complex supply chains, wastes taxpayer money, and undermines Congress’ intent that the program be available for actual emergencies that threaten our national security.”
As Senator Toomey explains in the letter, the statute requires the president to provide the Senate Banking Committee with written justification for invoking the DPA prior to any DPA expenditure. President Biden, however, has waived the congressional notification requirement on six separate occasions since March.
“The DPA is not a utility knife for resolving complex economic issues or financing the administration’s climate agenda,” the Senator wrote. “Abusing the DPA while circumventing congressional oversight risks turning the program into a partisan tool for advancing the policies of the political party that holds the White House. For example, a future Republican president may decide the DPA is a convenient means for funding construction of a border wall or finishing a long-stalled natural gas pipeline even though neither matter has any relationship to the defense-industrial base.”
The letter asks the administration to answer a number of written questions regarding the justifications and intentions for invoking the DPA by October 11, 2022.
Senator Toomey concluded by stating that congressional action may be necessary if the administration continues to use the DPA as a nearly limitless pool of funding for whatever priorities it desires.
“If your administration continues to abuse the DPA and skirt legitimate questions surrounding its use, Congress may have to curtail the executive branch’s ability to so easily invoke it,” Ranking Member Toomey wrote.
In May, Ranking Member Toomey criticized President Biden for misusing the DPA to force companies to produce baby formula ingredients, saying in a statement:
“First, it seems the administration has no use for the word ‘defense’ in Defense Production Act. Beyond misusing the DPA statute every time there’s a temporary product shortage, today’s action masks the costly protectionist and welfare policies that created this problem in the first place. To fix the shortage, the administration and Congress should cut the hefty import taxes on baby formula and amend the USMCA so the U.S. isn’t limited in how much formula we can import from Canada. We should also reform the aspects of the WIC program that have reduced competition in the infant formula market and made the country more vulnerable to supply disruptions.”
After President Biden invoked the DPA to use taxpayer dollars to build solar panels in June, Senator Toomey said:
“Once again, [the president] is abusing the Defense Production Act—this time to advance his global warming agenda by using taxpayer dollars to build solar panels. If the administration keeps misusing the DPA for non-defense purposes, Congress must curtail it.”