Ports Pushing to Ease Holiday Bottleneck, Biden Says
President Joe Biden on Wednesday launched an effort to ease supply chain blockages that are threatening to disrupt the U.S. holiday season, relying on expanded port and shipping operations and urging other businesses to speed up operations.
The moves were a first step, Biden said, to pushing supply chains in the United States, the world's biggest consumer economy, to operate faster.
Biden brought together powerbrokers from ports, unions and big business to hash out how to speedily address a backlog of products that includes 500,000 containers on cargo ships waiting to be offloaded at the clogged ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Port of Los Angeles will join the Port of Long Beach in stepping up its round-the-clock operations, the White House said earlier, and Walmart and other retailers will expand use of non-peak hours as well.
"I want to be clear. This is an across-the-board commitment to going to 24/7. This is a big first step," Biden said. "But now we need the rest of the private sector chain to step up as well. This is not called a supply chain for nothing."
The supply crisis is driven in part by the global COVID-19 pandemic, as sales of durable goods jumped amid worker shortages and transportation hub slowdowns. Lower-than-expected Christmas sales could hurt U.S. companies and pose a political risk for Biden as he grapples with the pandemic and inflation.
White House officials, scrambling to relieve global supply bottlenecks choking U.S. ports, highways and railways, are warning that Americans may face higher prices and some empty shelves this Christmas season.
A shortage of warehouse workers and truck drivers to pick up goods is partly to blame.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein, Arriana McLymore, Nandita Bose and Richa Naidu; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Heather Timmons and Lisa Shumaker)