Biden announces 24/7 port initiative in ‘big first step’ to help supply chain issues

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Biden announced Wednesday that the port of Los Angeles will begin operating 24/7 to help supply chain bottlenecks.

“Today’s announcement has the potential to be a game-changer,” Biden said while discussing supply chain issues that have hampered the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a big first step to speed up the delivery of goods across all America,” Biden said.

The Biden administration is brokering new deals in an effort to relieve the stressed supply chain, ease shipping backlogs and move stranded container ships that are driving prices higher for consumers off the U.S. coast.

Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the U.S. 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.

Commitments by the Los Angeles port’s operator, longshoremen and several of the country’s largest retail and shipping companies are expected to help relieve the backlog. Walmart, FedEx and UPS made commitments to unload during off-peak hours, making it easier for the LA port to operate nonstop and reduce the backlog. The Long Beach port has been operating 24 hours daily for seven days for roughly the past three weeks.

In an economy upended by the coronavirus pandemic, shortages and price spikes have hit everything from lumber to computer chips to toilet paper.

Republican lawmakers have blasted Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which passed in March, for fueling higher prices. A recent analysis issued by the investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates that “supply-constrained goods” account for 80% 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.

“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.

This comes as U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS released recommended shipping dates to ensure that gifts and cards arrive in time for the holidays. Retailers have recommended that consumers shop early or risk not finding what they want for Christmas, which falls on a Saturday this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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