By Kate Sullivan, CNN
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday said President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposals would help alleviate issues in global supply chains that have slowed the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are relying on supply chains that were built generations ago. It’s one of the reasons why this entire year we have been talking about and working on infrastructure and are eager to see Congress to act to get this infrastructure deal through,” Buttigieg told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day.”
Buttigieg’s comments come as Biden’s economic agenda remains stalled in Congress because of sharp divisions within the Democratic Party about the size and the scope of a package to expand the nation’s social safety net.
The Transportation secretary, who is part of the Biden administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, told CNN on Wednesday that there currently are record levels of containers and other goods coming into US ports but there is more demand than the supply chain can support.
The White House announced Wednesday morning it would work with companies and ports on a “90-day sprint” to alleviate bottlenecks. The Port of Los Angeles will move to 24/7 service, bringing it into line with operations at the Port of Long Beach, which is already working on a 24/7 schedule. Those two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the US.
Buttigieg told CNN on Wednesday morning this move “can make a big difference,” but won’t be the cure-all solution. He stressed the need for the private and public sectors to work together to address the issues.
Biden on Wednesday is set to deliver remarks on efforts to address global transportation supply chain bottlenecks after meeting with senior officials and stakeholders to discuss the matter. The President will be meeting virtually this afternoon with port operators, truckers’ associations, labor unions and executives from Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Target and Samsung to discuss the supply chain issues.
The global supply chain issues have been getting worse, spurring shortages of consumer products and making it more expensive for companies to ship goods. A shortage of truck drivers has added to supply chain constraints and has made the delivery of goods to consumers even more costly and slow.
“This is a largely private sector system, and a global one at that, but there are a lot of steps that we can take as an administration, as an honest broker,” Buttigieg said on “New Day.”
He continued: “That’s what the President has directed us to do and that’s part of why we’re gathering right here at the White House with leaders from the ports of LA and Long Beach, labor leaders and the private sector companies that, you know, the Fedexs, UPSs, Walmarts, others who play that role on everything that happens between when something arrives on a ship and when it gets to the shelves so you can get it to your home.”
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CNN’s Jason Hoffman and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.