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Schumer Calls For Military Official To Be Medical Equipment Czar; Trump: I’ve Already Done That
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Trump said his administration is considering ways to compensate health-care workers with supplemental hazard pay as they grapple with the coronavirus outbreak. Photographer: Oliver Contreras/SIPA/Bloomberg
Oliver Contreras/SIPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on President Trump to appoint a senior military official to oversee the production and distribution of medical equipment, saying that the man Trump appointed and the Coronavirus Task Force were “not up to the job.” President Trump responded Thursday morning by saying he’s already done that and unloading on the Democratic leader for complaining now while failing to “push harder” for needed equipment earlier.

Speaking with CNN’s Erin Burnett Wednesday, Schumer sounded the alarm over the “dramatic shortage of all the needed supplies or most of them, whether it’s masks, whether it’s PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] … whether it’s ventilators.”

“And we have no one really in charge,” the senator said, as reported by The Hill. The result is the “awful spectacle of governors bidding against one another,” he added.

While Schumer said he believes Peter Navarro — the man who is serving as coordinator of the Defense Production Act, which allows the federal government to order industries to produce needed goods in extreme emergencies — is a “very nice man,” he does not believe he is equipped to handle the crisis. “I talked to [Navarro],” said Schumer. “He is not up to the job. He is a very nice man, but he has no experience doing things like this.” As far as he can tell, Schumer said, “no one” is in charge of the distribution of medical supplies.

The solution, he suggested, is to appoint a high-ranking military person to take over the job. “They need one person, a military person, a general who knows how to deal with logistics and quartermastering, who knows command and control,” he said. “You need to place that person, the czar, in charge of both production and distribution of all of these kinds of needed equipment and get it to the places that are needed.”

Trump responded to Schumer’s comments in a series of posts Thursday morning in which he pointed out that he has already put a military official in charge of the process.

“Somebody please explain to Cryin’ Chuck Schumer that we do have a military man in charge of distributing goods, a very talented Admiral, in fact,” said Trump, in reference to Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, whom Trump recently tasked with overseeing America’s coronavirus supply chain.

“New York has gotten far more than any other State, including hospitals [and] a hospital ship, but no matter what, always complaining. It wouldn’t matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough,” Trump continued. “Unlike other states, New York unfortunately got off to a late start. You should have pushed harder. Stop complaining [and] find out where all of these supplies are going. [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo working hard!”

“Massive amounts of medical supplies, even hospitals and medical centers, are being delivered directly to states and hospitals by the Federal Government,” Trump added. “Some have insatiable appetites [and] are never satisfied (politics?). Remember, we are a backup for them. The complainers should have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit. Other states are thrilled with the job we have done. Sending many Ventilators today, with thousands being built. 51 large cargo planes coming in with medical supplies. Prefer sending directly to hospitals.”

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