Biden could use National Guard to help resolve supply chain bottlenecks

WASHINGTON – President Biden has said he will consider deploying the National Guard to help address supply chain bottlenecks that have resulted in shortages and higher consumer costs, if his administration is not not able to solve the problem.

“The answer is yes, if we can’t move, increase the number of truckers, which we are in the process of doing,” Biden said at a CNN town hall on Thursday when asked about the deployment of the National Guard.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki played down the possibility on Friday, saying that if a president has the power to make such an order, the state-level deployment rests with the governors. “We are not actively asking them to do this and we are not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard at the federal level,” she said.

The California port of Los Angeles is struggling to cope with the influx of freight containers arriving at its terminals, creating one of the biggest bottlenecks in the global supply chain crisis. This exclusive aerial video illustrates the scale of the problem and the complexities of this process. Photo: Thomas C. Miller

Bill Sullivan, executive vice president of advocacy with the American Trucking Associations, a trade group, said members of the National Guard who have commercial driver’s licenses are likely already driving in the trade.

“And the freight network is private, so what company would the National Guard be transporting?” Mr. Sullivan said in a statement. “While we understand why elected officials are looking to all possible authorities for help, deploying the Guard to transport cargo is not feasible and would only further complicate the current situation.”

Republicans have increasingly criticized Mr Biden for supply chain bottlenecks, fearing Christmas presents might be delayed and saying the president is not doing enough.

The U.S. supply chain has struggled to adjust to the import crash, as consumers shifted from services to housewares, including electronics, and businesses rush to replenish depleted stocks by the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of containers remained stranded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the West Coast gateways that carry more than a quarter of all U.S. imports. Waiting times were extended to three weeks. Shortages of truck drivers and warehouse workers have also posed challenges in supply chains.

“What you have to do is you have to bring in and unload these ships,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr Biden declined to provide a timeline for when he could deploy the National Guard, if he decides to do so.

“First of all, I want the ports to be operational and the railways, rail heads and trucks in the port to be ready to move,” he said.

Write to Andrew Restuccia at [email protected] and Alex Leary at [email protected]

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