The White House has reportedly pulled out of an agreement to build life-saving ventilators because officials decided they were too expensive.
They had been prepared to reveal a joint venture Wednesday between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to produce up to 80,000 badly needed ventilators when the announcement was suddenly called off, reported the New York Times.
The decision came after the the Federal Emergency Management Agency asked for more time to evaluate the estimated cost of more than $1 billion, with several hundred million paid up front to General Motors to change over an auto parts plant in Kokomo, Indiana, to build the ventilators.
The deal isn’t dead, but government officials said they’re considering at least a dozen other proposals.
They’re also concerned that the initial promise to quickly build 20,000 ventilators has since dwindled to just 7,500, and even that number isn’t certain.
“Longtime emergency managers at FEMA are working with military officials to sort through the competing offers and federal procurement rules while under pressure to give President Trump something to announce,” the Times reported.
Those FEMA efforts are being overseen by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, who has said Vice President Mike Pence tasked him two weeks ago with producing more test kits, but has now focused on ventilators.
Two officials told the Times that the decision to pause the General Motors deal came from Col. Patrick Work, who is working at FEMA, and some government officials were concerned about building too many ventilators.