White House gives update on supply chain, containers on the move

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Officials say the administration is working on getting goods on shelves this holiday season

FILE – A truck passes a container ship at the Port of Oakland on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Oakland, Calif. California farmers say they are having trouble exporting their crops because of delays in the global supply chain. Intense demand for products has led to a backlog of container ships outside the nation’s two largest ports along the Southern California coast. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The sight of dozens of cargo ships off the coast of Los Angeles has become a staple of the supply chain backlog, but the White House is highlighting improvement to get back on schedule.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden met with his Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and private sector chief executive officers for an update on getting goods moving, keeping shelves stocked and lowering prices for Americans.

KOIN 6 News spoke with White House Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher about the backlog. Meagher said that the number of containers stuck in limbo has dropped 50% in the last eight days at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“We think that that’s a really good number,” Meagher said. “Really positive step in terms of getting goods from the ship to the shelf.”

The Biden administration worked with the ports to impose a fee on ocean carriers if their cargo sits on docks for more than eight days.

The White House also noted that it’s preparing for how supply chains could be disrupted again with the omicron spread.

This week, the administration announced $230 million in port infrastructure development grants, which is the latest step in the Port Action Plan announced in November. The plan accelerates investments in U.S. ports, waterways and freight networks after the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

“The PAP helped the Port of Savannah launch three ‘pop-up’ container yards to reduce congestion and includes $12.6 million for marine highway projects and over $50 billion in highway funding that can be used to modernize freight corridors,” said the White House. “This builds on investments in port and freight infrastructure communities have made using the American Rescue Plan such as Florida’s $250 million investment in ports.”

The White House also announced its Trucking Action Plan last week to recruit and retain more truckers by improving job quality.

According to officials, TAP will help states reduce commercial drivers’ license backlogs; kick off a 90-day challenge to expand registered apprenticeships with the private sector; step up the recruitment of veterans; and launch a driving good jobs initiative to address issues that hurt retention, such as unpaid wait times.

What about gas prices?

KOIN 6 News asked Meagher what gas prices look like at the pump as people travel this holiday season.

“Since its peak a month or so ago, the price of gas has dropped by an average of 12 cents,” noted Meagher. “(President Biden) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last month asking them to investigate price gouging because of the price of unrefined oil had been dropping during that period of time, but the price at the gas pump was still very high.”

He added, “In addition, (Biden) directed that 50 million barrels of oil be released from the strategic petroleum reserve.”

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