Massachusetts Governor Says He's Being Outbid by Federal Government For Coronavirus Supplies, Despite Trump Telling Govs to Get Their Own

During a conference call between state officials and President Donald Trump on Thursday, Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker said the state had been outbid by the federal government while attempting to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump said at a coronavirus task force press briefing on Monday that state governments should attempt to purchase PPE such as face masks, respirators and ventilators "on their own" if it means they can receive the equipment faster.

"If [governors] can get them faster by getting them on their own," Trump told reporters, "In other words, go through a supply chain they may have. Because the governors—you know, during normal times, the governors buy a lot of things not necessarily through federal government."

Purchasing PPE through the federal government would be a "longer process" than utilizing existing supply chains, according to Trump.

"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 told Trump on Thursday. "But I've got to tell you that on three big orders we lost to the feds."

"If states are doing what the feds want and trying to create their own supply chain on this, then people should be responsive to that because I've got a feeling that if somebody has a chance to sell to you or has a chance to sell to me, I'm going to lose every one of those," Baker added.

charlie baker
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said his state had been outbid by federal authorities for medical equipment to help fight the coronavirus pandemic during a Thursday conference call with President Donald Trump. Marla Aufmuth/WireImage/Getty

"We do like you going out, seeing what you can get, if you can get it faster," Trump replied. "Price is always a component of that also, maybe that's why you lost to the feds. I'll tell you, that's probably why."

Vice President Mike Pence also responded to Baker's statements by saying that PPE would become more readily available as the private sector responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think the president's perception, the team's perception, is American industry is stepping forward very aggressively and with the changes that Congress just enacted and the president signed, we're going to continue to make more and more PPE available," Pence said.

"Massachusetts, along with other states, continues to utilize supply chains to obtain equipment and materials needed to address Coronavirus," said Baker's communications director Lizzy Guyton in a statement sent to Newsweek Thursday.

"Through our Command Center, the Administration has, and expects to, receive more materials from the national stockpile and is working to secure more materials through other vendors," Guyton's statement continued. "The Administration has made clear to the federal government that Massachusetts will need more supplies as more testing is done and more patients seek medical care for Coronavirus. The National Governor's Association has identified access to the supply chain as a top priority for all states."

While Trump has enacted the Defense Production Act (DPA), which would redirect the efforts of American manufacturers to the creation of healthcare equipment, Pence said the president "hasn't initiated any action underneath it."

Some Democrats have questioned Trump's hesitancy to use the powers inherent within the DPA, including Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who said in a Thursday statement that Trump should "immediately use the powers of the Defense Production Act to mass produce and coordinate distribution of these critical supplies, before the need worsens and the shortages become even more dire. There is not a day to lose."