The White House is pushing back on President Joe Biden’s statement at a CNN-sponsored town hall Thursday evening that he is willing to deploy National Guard troops to help ease the country’s supply chain crisis.
During the event, host Anderson Cooper asked the president if he would have truck drivers in the National Guard deploy to make up for a dearth of commercial truckers, which is adding to the supply chain bottleneck. Biden responded that he would and that he also was working off a timetable to resolve the worsening crisis.
“I had a timetable for, first of all, I want to get the ports up and running,” Biden responded, adding that he had commitments from retail giants like Walmart and shipping companies like FedEx.
Cooper went on to ask Biden for further explanation on whether he would seek National Guard assistance in driving trucks. “The answer is yes, if we can’t move to increase the number of truckers, which we’re in the process of doing,” said Biden.
— CNN (@CNN) October 22, 2021
Following Biden’s comments, a White House official clarified the situation to CNN.
“Requesting the use of the National Guard at the state level is under the purview of governors, and we are not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard on a federal level,” the official said.
Biden and his administration have come under increasing fire to solve the supply crunch as the holiday shopping season approaches, with some Republicans having suggested the White House should have anticipated the crunch as the global economy re-emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
For his part, the president has called on the private sector to help.
“We need the rest of the private sector chain to step up as well,” Biden said. “This is not called a supply chain for nothing. This means terminal operators, railways, trucking companies, shippers and other retailers as well. Stretching our supply chain will continue to be my team’s focus.”
He also said his plan “has the potential to be a game-changer” if private sector industry firms can contribute.
“This is the first key step for moving our entire freight, transportation and logistical supply chain nationwide to a 24/7 system,” Biden said.
Some Republicans pushed back, however.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the administration and Democrats were instead “exacerbating or ignoring the underlying supply chain issues.”
“On infrastructure specifically, the President and the Majority are using the issue to advance their socialist agendas instead of concentrating on addressing congestion and freight bottlenecks,” Graves noted last week. “Their first step now needs to be recognizing that the core purpose of the Nation’s infrastructure network is to move people and goods safely and efficiently.
“Americans are paying a heavy price for these failures, including skyrocketing inflation and the growing scarcity of goods on the shelves that will get worse with Christmas fast approaching,” he added.
In a letter to the president spearheaded by Republican congressional leaders and obtained by Fox News, 160 lawmakers pressed Biden to reverse pandemic-related policies they say are largely responsible for creating the bottlenecks.
“We request that you stop the litany of harmful regulatory actions that are driving up energy costs and to stop attacking the American businesses with vaccine mandates, taxation and government handouts that are disincentivizing work,” Graves, who led the letter to Biden, said.
In recent days more than 100 container vessels were anchored off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, many waiting more than a week to be offloaded. A trucker shortage, as well as shortages of other workers up and down the supply chain, have also contributed to the bottlenecks.
In addition to delays, the costs of shipping and transport have also gone up dramatically over the past several months, especially fuel costs which are leading to price increases across the board and contributing to historic levels of inflation.