Vice President Mike Pence today praised employees at a General Electric plant in Madison for their work to produce ventilators, saying their efforts were saving lives.

Pence toured the facility and then did a roundtable with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and GE employees. He told them President Trump sent him to thank company employees for their efforts.

“Frankly, I felt more than a little emotional looking at a lot of the members of the team here,” Pence said. “It’s a privilege for me to be able to be here just to say thank you for all you are doing.”

HHS announced a $336 million contract with GE to produce 50,000 ventilators by July 13 under the Defense Production Act

Plant employees are represented by the International Association of Machinists union Local 1406, which quickly ratified a new deal last month to help ramp up production of the ventilators. The union’s existing contract at the time wasn’t set to expire until June.

During his tour of the plant, Pence spoke to a series of plant employees, praising them for their efforts. He also accepted a blue T-shirt that read “Union machinists save lives.”

On a conference call organized by the state Dem Party, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said he was outraged by the visit.

“While it’s great we have local companies stepping up… the bottom line is the federal government’s response has been pathetic,” the Town of Vermont Dem said.

Pocan ripped FEMA, saying it has “completely fallen apart” and its response to the state’s needs has been “nonexistent.” He highlighted a sheet showing requests from the Evers administration for supplies had largely gone unfulfilled and said the agency in some cases had sent only a handful of items when thousands had been requested.

“The question for Vice President Pence today is: where the hell is the federal response for places like Wisconsin?” Pocan said.

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