Jim McGovern “pissed off” at White House over procurement

Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat, is “really pissed off” by the lack of coordination he’s seeing from the Trump the administration in getting desperately needed protective gear to state and local first responders amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

McGovern said his district is receiving reports of medical supply shortages that he attributes to “the lack of coordination at the highest levels of our government in the administration.”

“I got a call from the father of a nurse at one of my local hospitals saying she was told in a couple of days they are going to be running out of face masks,” an audibly frustrated McGovern said in an interview with CBS News on Friday evening. 

“We are the United States of America — during World War II we converted our factories into places that produce whatever we needed to win the war,” McGovern said. “And we’ve got doctors, nurses and first responders who don’t have the protective gear, that they’re entitled to, that they deserve. It’s a disgrace. It’s inexplicable at this point.”

“I don’t want to be told at the daily press conference by the president and the vice president that everything is great, and the only people who are complaining are just whining, the reality is that again we’re getting reports that we’re running out of protective gear in a matter of days,” McGovern added. 

“Hopefully the pushback in the last couple of days is getting the White House to refocus,” McGovern said.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, personally pointed out to President Trump some of the shortcomings in coordination during a conference call earlier this week. The president has been urging governors to procure their own medical supplies. That job “is really for the local governments, governors and people in the state,” he said. Mr. Trump’s feeling is that “the federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping,” he said Thursday. “You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.”

Baker told the president what happened when his state tried to purchase its own equipment.

“We took very seriously the push that you made previously on one of these calls that we should not just rely on the stockpile, and that we should go out and buy stuff and put in orders and try to create pressure on manufacturers and distributors,” Baker said. “And I’ve gotta tell you that on three big orders, we lost to the feds. So my question is, could you give some of these guys some guidance that says, you know, if states are doing what the feds want and trying to create their own supply chain on this, that people should be responsive to that? Because I’ve got a feeling that if someone has a chance to sell to you or a chance to sell to me, I’m going to lose every one of those.”

“All right, Charlie, well thank you very much,” Mr. Trump said, after chuckling slightly. “Well, we do like you going out seeing what you can get if you can get it faster. And price is always a component of that, also. And maybe that’s what you lost to the feds — I’ll tell you that’s probably why.”

On Friday, when the president was asked about state and local governments competing with the federal government for supplies, Mr. Trump said the “smart” leaders would inform the federal government of their bids. “We’ve had four or five instances where literally that was happening because you know we’re both trying to get stock,” he said during the coronavirus task force briefing. “And if we’re going against, they will call us — the smart ones, frankly, will call us, and we will immediately — we want them to buy it because it gets to them quicker if they buy it.”

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