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On September 26, 2014 the president signed into law a bill to reauthorize and revise a law that can be invoked in order to place restrictions on trade. The Defense Production Act of 1950 provides authority for the President and federal agencies to prepare for national defense, military conflicts, disasters, or acts of terrorism using the domestic industrial base to supply materials and services. The law has been used at various times to provide government assistance to industries that are deemed necessary for military defense, such as aluminum, titanium, telecommunications, and various advanced materials.
The bill amends the law to limit presidential authority under the law in various ways. One of those changes would prohibit the president from taking action to correct an industrial resource shortfall without congressional authorization if such action would cause the aggregate outstanding amount of all such actions to exceed $50 million.
This change might have the effect of either limiting, or making it more procedurally difficult to enact, policies that provide governmental support to defense industries.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that implementing the bill would cost $390 million over the 2015-2019 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
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