Date: Friday, October 22, 2021
Source: The Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON—President Biden said he would consider deploying the National Guard to assist with supply-chain bottlenecks that have led to shortages and higher consumer costs, if his administration is unable to ease the problem.
“The answer is yes, if we can’t move—increase the number of truckers, which we’re in the process of doing,” Mr. Biden said during a CNN town hall on Thursday when asked about deploying the National Guard.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday played down the possibility, saying that while a president has authority to make such an order, deployment at a state level is up to governors. “We’re not actively asking them to do that and we’re not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard on a federal level,” she said.
Bill Sullivan, executive vice president for advocacy with the American Trucking Associations, a trade group, said National Guard members who have commercial driver’s licenses are likely already driving commercially.
“And the freight network is private, so which company’s products would the National Guard haul?” Mr. Sullivan said in a statement. “While we understand why elected officials are looking at all possible authorities to help, deploying the Guard to haul freight isn’t feasible and would only further complicate the current situation.”
Republicans have increasingly criticized Mr. Biden over the supply chain bottlenecks, raising concerns that Christmas gifts will be delayed and asserting that the president isn’t doing enough.
The U.S. supply chain has struggled to adapt to a crush of imports, as consumers shifted from services to home goods, including electronics, and as businesses rush to restock pandemic-depleted inventories. Hundreds of thousands of containers got stuck at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, the West Coast gateways that move more than a quarter of all U.S. imports. Waiting times stretched to three weeks. Shortages of truck drivers and warehouse workers have also posed problems across supply chains.
“What you’ve got to do is, you’ve got to get these ships in and unloaded,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden declined to provide a timetable for when he could deploy the National Guard, if he decides to do so.
“First of all, I want to get the ports up and running and get the railroads and the rail heads and the trucks in port ready to move,” he said.