Joe Biden has warned companies that he will “call” them if they don’t “step up” to ease supply chain bottlenecks before the holiday season.
The president of the United States, facing grim opinion polls and a stagnant legislative agenda, is eager to avoid further political damage from clogged ports, highways and railroads resulting in higher prices and empty shelves.
“I know you’re hearing a lot about something called supply chains and how difficult it is to get a variety of things from a toaster to slippers to bicycles and bedroom furniture,” Biden acknowledged. in a short direction at the White House on Wednesday. “With the holidays coming, you may wonder if the gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time.”
Biden announced that the Port of Los Angeles, which has recently seen record buildup, will expand to 24/7 operations, following the lead of the Port of Long Beach, also in California.
About 40% of shipping containers imported into the US pass through the two ports, which are among the busiest in the world, but generally operate five days a week and close at night and on weekends. . The change will see the Port of Los Angeles add more than 60 hours of operation a week, nearly double its total earlier this year.
Biden, who established a supply chain disruption task force in June, said the announcement has the “potential to be a game changer,” but added: “I say potential because all of these goods won’t move on their own. .
“For the positive impact to be felt across the country and for all of you at home, we need the big retailers who ordered the products and the shippers who take the products from ships to factories and stores to step up as well. “
In a positive sign, Biden said, three major freight carriers – Walmart, FedEx and UPS – plan to step up their 24-hour operations to speed up shipping of goods across the country. Target, Home Depot and Samsung are also increasing their work during off-peak hours.
The White House expects pledges from the six companies will amount to an additional 3,500 containers to be moved each week through the end of the year.
“This is not called a supply chain for nothing,” Biden said. “If federal support is needed, I will direct all appropriate actions. Now if the private sector doesn’t step up, we’ll call them in and ask them to act because our goal is not just to overcome this immediate bottleneck, but to address the long-standing weaknesses in our transportation supply chain that this pandemic has. exposed “.
The supply crisis is partly due to the global coronavirus pandemic, as sales of durable goods surged amid a shortage of workers and a slowdown at the transportation hub.
Thousands of shipping containers are on offshore cargo ships waiting to be unloaded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Similar delays exist at the ports of New York and Savannah, Georgia. The shortage of warehouse workers and truck drivers to pick up goods is partly to blame.
An interrupted Christmas with empty shelves and undelivered toys is sure to generate negative headlines for Biden, who has already lost political momentum due to a surge in Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant and the chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, the president met with executives from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as businesses, unions, the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Association and the Pacific Maritime Association.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, admitted that Biden couldn’t promise there would be no breaks during the holidays. “We are not the postal service, nor UPS or FedEx, we cannot guarantee”, told reporters.
“What we can do is use all levels available to the federal government to reduce delays, to make sure that we are addressing bottlenecks in the system, including ports and the need for them to be open longer hours … and We can continue to pressure not only workers and unions, but also companies to take all possible measures to reduce these delays ”.
Republicans gave a cool reception to Biden’s comments, noting that he did not respond to questions from reporters. Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, tweeted: “While his paycheck is reduced by skyrocketing inflation and supply chain shortages, he does not take questions or take responsibility. He just walks away. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism