Biden says his ‘game-changing’ plan to open ports for longer and have truckers drive at night will fix the supply chain chaos – after Psaki said White House could not guarantee Christmas gifts would be delivered on time
President Joe Biden touted new commitments from businesses and ports Wednesday as his administration rushes to ease supply chain backlogs in time to ease the burden on Christmas shoppers and avoid being cast as a Scrooge.
‘With the holidays coming up, you might be wondering if gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time?’ Biden said, acknowledging the crush of commercial and online orders at risk of disruption as the holiday season approaches.
‘I know you’re hearing a lot about something called supply chains and how hard it is to get a range of things from a toaster to sneakers to bicycles to bedroom furniture.’
Hi touted new agreements, saying: ‘This is a big first step in moving up the movement of materials and good through our supply chain,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House.
President Joe Biden announced new efforts to ease supply chain roadblocks and spoke about concerns of anxious holiday shoppers
The consumer items he mentioned all are subject to delays with dozens of container ships seeking to get their goods unloaded in major West Coast ports.
Many are manufactured en masse in China – an issue Biden also addressed by touting his infrastructure plan.
He called new agreements with ports, unions, and shippers ‘a sign of major progress in moving goods from manufacturers to a store and to your front door.’
His remarks came shortly after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: ‘We are not the postal service or UPS or FedEx. We cannot guarantee. What we can do is use every lever at the federal government’s disposal to reduce delays, to ensure that we are addressing bottlenecks in the system, including ports and the need for them to be open longer hours.
Biden reached a deal on Wednesday with unions and business leaders from Walmart, FedEx, UPS and others to expand operations at one of the country’s largest shipping ports in a bid to ease supply chain bottlenecks that are driving up consumer prices and emptying store shelves.
Once implemented the proposed changes could increase output by more than 3,500 shipping containers per week, White House officials said.
‘Traditionally, our ports have only been open during the week, Monday through Friday. And they’re generally closed down at nights and on weekends. By staying open seven days a week through the night and on the weekends, the port of Los Angeles will open over 60 extra hours a week,’ he continued. ‘That will almost double the number of hours that the port is open for business than earlier this year.’
Under the new agreement the Port of Los Angeles will join the Port of Long Beach in working around the clock to alleviate some of the supply chain bottlenecks plaguing consumers ahead of the holiday season.
The consumer-price index also rose by 0.4 percent from August to September, according to data released by the Labor Department on Wednesday. That’s a 5.4 percent year-over increase, the highest in 13 years.
While slower than June’s record-setting 0.9 percent increase, it likely won’t be enough to turn the tide of inflation in time for Christmas.
Biden will make the announcement from the White House later this afternoon.
He’ll also be speaking with leadership at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as well as representatives from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about whether holiday packages will arrive on time despite the challenged at her daily news briefing on Wednesday.
‘We are not the Postal Service or UPS or FedEx. We cannot guarantee. What we do is use every lever at the federal government’s disposal to reduce delays,’ Psaki replied.
The consumer price index rose 5.4 percent in September from a year ago, up slightly from August’s gain of 5.3 percent and matching the increases in June and July
Prices are up on a wide range of key goods as high inflation continues to hit US consumers
Biden gathers Cabinet members and company execs to try and fix the supply chain chaos: The list of attendees in full
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese
Port Envoy John Porcari
Gene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles
Mario Cordero, Executive Director, Port of Long Beach
Willie Adams, International President, ILWU
James Hoffa Jr., General President, Teamsters
Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
John Furner, President & CEO, Walmart U.S.
Dr. Udo Lange, President and CEO, FedEx Logistics
Nando Cesarone, President, U.S. Operations, UPS
Brian Cornell, Board Chairman and CEO, Target
Ted Decker, President and COO, Home Depot
KS Choi, President and CEO, Samsung Electronics North America
Matt Shay, President & CEO, National Retail Federation
Peter Friedmann, Executive Director, Agriculture Transportation Coalition
Chris Spear, President and CEO, American Trucking Associations
·Ian Jefferies, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads
Suzanne Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Geoff Freeman, President and CEO, Consumer Brands Association
Jim McKenna, President and CEO, Pacific Maritime Association
Together the California ports see 40 percent of all shipping containers that enter the US.
Long Beach expanded its operations to 24-hours seven-days-per-week last month. Now, Los Angeles port officials and union leaders have agreed to add off-peak nighttime and weekend hours to help drive consumer prices down as well.
Goods at the Port of Los Angeles move 25 percent faster at night than during the day, White House officials have said.
They argue that expanding to overnight operation would help lighten the load on other links in the supply chain by easing traffic congestion during the day.
As of Monday, there were 62 ships berthed at the two ports and 81 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
Supply chain issues have hampered the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and are tightly linked with the broader challenge of inflation confronting Biden.
Donald Trump took aim at his former rival on Wednesday in a statement mocking the multiple crises Biden is facing, including rising consumer prices.
‘COVID is raging out of control, our supply chains are crashing with little product in our stores, we were humiliated in Afghanistan, our Border is a complete disaster, gas prices and inflation are zooming upward—how’s Biden doing? Do you miss me yet?’ the former president said.
Before his speech, Biden was scheduled to hold a virtual roundtable with the heads of Walmart, FedEx Logistics, UPS, Target, Samsung Electronics North America, the Teamsters Union and the US Chamber of Commerce, among other groups.
Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, told Biden it would move to increase shipping output by as much as 50 percent over the coming weeks.
Shipping giant UPS has vowed to increase data sharing with port officials and estimates it could raise its operating capacity by 20 percent.
FedEx said it would implement changes to double the volume of containers it can move out at night and Samsung agreed to expand output by nearly 60 percent.
White House officials estimate that more than 3,500 additional shipping containers per week will be sent by night through the end of the year.
Yesterday the White House warned shoppers that popular kids’ toys could be out of reach come Christmas as Biden and Congressional Democrats struggle to turn the economic tailspin around.
And today on CNN, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joked that people who shop on Christmas Eve will face ‘more challenges.’
There were 62 ships berthed at the Port of Los Angeles (pictured) and Port of Long Beach and 81 waiting to dock and unload as of Monday
He was asked on Wednesday about how supply chain issues would get ahead of December.
‘I think there’s always been two kinds of Christmas shoppers – there’s the kind that have their list completed by Halloween, and there’s people like me who show up at the mall on Christmas Eve. If you’re in that latter bucket, obviously there’s going to be more challenges,’ Buttigieg said.
Stores across the country have become increasingly barren thanks to a series of bottlenecks in the global supply chain.
Many goods that are made in China – like toys, clothes, home appliances and more – are stuck either in factories there or in containers on board cargo ships off the coast that are waiting their turn to dock.
Trump mocked Biden’s handling of multiple national crises in a statement Wednesday morning
At almost every link in the chain, there is a shortage; there aren’t enough yard workers to unpack the cargo on the ships quickly enough, nor are there enough drivers able to ferry them around on the ground. In stores, retailers don’t have enough workers to unpack them once they arrive.
It has created a nightmare economic scenario where demand for goods is far outpacing supply, driving inflation and in turn raising prices for Americans.
Republican lawmakers have frequently blasted Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package for fueling higher prices.
A recent analysis issued by the investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates that ‘supply-constrained goods’ account for 80 percent of this year´s inflation overshoot, yet the political criticism continues to sting as housing and oil prices add to inflationary pressures.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has made inflation one of his central criticisms of Biden, a sign that getting prices under control could be essential for Democrats trying to hold onto congressional seats in next year’s elections.
Supply chain bottlenecks have led to empty shelves and high prices for American consumers (pictured: bare shelves seen at a Minneapolis Walgreens on October 9)
Yesterday the White House warned that many popular toys may not get here in time for Christmas (pictured: A couple shopping for the remaining towels in an otherwise empty Home Goods department of Sears in El Paso, Texas on October 10)
‘The Democrats’ inflation is so bad that even though the average American worker has gotten a multiple-percentage-point pay raise over the last year, their actual purchasing power has been cut,’ McConnell said in a Senate floor speech last week.
‘Even dollar stores are having to raise their prices. Just ask any American family about their last few trips to the supermarket, the gas station or the toy store. Heaven forbid if they´ve had to participate in the housing market or the auto market anytime lately.’
The Biden administration has argued that higher inflation is temporary. Yet the supply chain issues have persisted months after the economy began to reopen and recover after vaccines lessened many of the risks from the pandemic.
Economists expect that Wednesday’s consumer prices report will show that prices climbed 5.3 percent from a year ago, significantly above the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.
Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic said in a Tuesday speech that he no longer calls inflation ‘transitory’ as he expects this current ‘episode’ of inflation could last into 2022 or longer.