Washington (CNN) — US President Joe Biden said Thursday night that he is considering deploying the National Guard to help ease the stress on the nation’s supply chain that is causing growing concern about the economy. But a White House official was quick to pour cold water on the plan.
“Yes, absolutely, positively. I will,” Biden said when asked by moderator Anderson Cooper during the CNN forum in Baltimore if he was prepared to call the National Guard. The president said he would specifically consider deploying members of the National Guard to haul trucks to help address the driver shortage “if we can’t move, increase the number of truckers, which we are in the process of doing.”
A White House official, however, told CNN shortly after that the administration is not actively considering the deployment of the National Guard despite Biden’s comments. “Requesting the use of the National Guard at the state level is the province of the governors and we are not actively seeking the use of the National Guard at the federal level,” the official said.
However, the president’s comments underscore the severity of the supply chain crisis, which is affecting Americans’ outlook on the economy. Business groups have urged Biden’s management to consider out-of-the-box ideas to tackle supply chain clutter, which is entangling shipments, driving up costs and leaving some store shelves empty. And economists say the supply chain problems show no signs of slowing down and could last into next year.
While Biden has directed the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to move to 24/7 operations, the ports are still unable to work 24 hours a day because importers don’t have enough drivers to move their charge at all hours.
When asked Tuesday if the White House would consider bringing in the National Guard or the Navy to help unload stacked cargo at ports or drive trucks, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “I’m not here to rule out options. “
The National Guard forces, a group made up of service members who hold civilian jobs and train part-time, are generally deployed to their home states by the governors or the federal government, who decide the length of each mission.
When asked Thursday if he had a timeline for possible National Guard activation, Biden said: “First of all, I want the ports to function and the railroads, rail hubs and trucks in the port to be ready to move. because I’ve gotten Walmart and others to say we’re going to move things from the port to our warehouses. “
CNN’s Kaanita Iyer, Kaitlan Collins, and Matt Egan contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism