A Democratic controlled subpanel of the House Oversight Committee says the Trump administration displayed “incompetent negotiating” and overpaid for ventilators by $500 million during the coronavirus outbreak.
A staff report by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, titled, “The Trump Administration’s Failures in Contract Management and Inept Negotiation by Senior White House Officials Denied Americans Ventilators During the Coronavirus Pandemic and Squandered Up to $504 Million in Taxpayer Funds," was released Friday.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., and the panel's ranking member, Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, blasted the report in a joint release, accusing Democrats of several falsehoods in an “endless quest to politicize this pandemic.”
At issue was a contract the Obama Administration entered into with Philips Respironics in 2014 for 10,000 ventilators that were to be delivered by June 2019, but was delayed until November last year.
Other delays occurred and extensions were granted, but earlier this year the contract was renegotiated, and the price of ventilators spiked to $15,000, more than $5,000 the original price.
“Trump negotiators appeared gullible and conceded to Philips on all significant matters, including price,” it said. “As a result, the federal government overpaid for ventilators — no American purchaser paid more than the U.S. government.”
Comer rebuked the report, writing “Democrats read a few documents produced by the cooperating company and made a bundle of assumptions.”
The Republican response said the report was wrong to claim the ventilators have not been delivered, that the ventilators negotiated for were not standard models and had exacting specifications, and that the price cited by the report was incorrect. The actual price of the ventilator contracted for was $17,333 per model, which was discounted to $12,133.
The Republicans also criticized the Obama administration for leaving office without having sufficient supplies in the Strategic National Stockpile.
“This is just the latest example of the Majority's greater concern for partisan politics than overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19,” the Republicans said. “We needed ventilators and we needed them quickly. Thanks to President (Donald) Trump, no person who needed a ventilator went without one. “
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