Today, President Biden held a meeting with members of his Cabinet, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Port Envoy John Porcari, and private sector leaders to discuss progress that has been made over the last few months to lower costs for families by alleviating bottlenecks that are rooted in the global pandemic. Less than one week since the Administration announced its Trucking Action Plan, nearly 30 companies have reached out to start developing registered apprenticeships—the gold standard of workforce training—and one company has approved a new registered apprenticeship as of yesterday.
The President kicked off the meeting with remarks noting progress on supply chains and that fears about empty shelves during holiday shopping season have failed to materialize amidst record demand for goods because of strong collaboration between government, business leaders, and labor. He noted progress the Administration has made in tackling gas prices and how passing Build Back Better will reduce costs for families. The President also thanked the participants for their work, saying he will continue to partner with them on addressing supply chain challenges.
The meeting first focused on ports and retail inventories. Envoy Porcari noted the progress in moving containers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as well as the Administration’s investment in pop-up container yards that are helping reduce congestion at the Port of Savannah, the country’s fourth largest container port. Participants noted that ports nationwide are working well. CEOs noted their efforts to successfully stock shelves, move goods, and work toward 24/7 operations. They discussed the investments they made in their supply chains to improve efficiency and throughput, and commended their workforce for handling record levels of goods. They welcomed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and noted that it will help reposition the U.S. to be more competitive in global trade and draw in more private sector investment in the supply chain. Secretary Vilsack discussed the work the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Transportation are doing to improve agricultural exports. Secretary Raimondo noted the long-term solution is to make more goods in America, and discussed the new investments being made in U.S. manufacturing.
The meeting also discussed the Task Force’s work on trucking. Participants noted that trucking is the lifeblood of the supply chain, and truckers were heroes throughout the pandemic moving the vaccines and goods that people needed. Secretaries Walsh and Buttigieg discussed the progress their agencies are making on implementing the Administration’s 90-day Trucking Action Plan to boost job quality and recruitment in truck driving. The Department of Labor has reduced the red tape for companies to join their Registered Apprenticeship program from two months to two days. Trucking companies also discussed the potential to bring recent veterans into the trucking industry, which can provide solid, well-paying jobs.
The New York Times reported today that the vast majority of packages delivered by USPS, UPS, and FedEx this holiday season have arrived on time or with minimal delays and that delivery times are 26-40 percent faster than before the pandemic.
And this week, the Administration is announcing $230 million in Port Infrastructure Development Grants—the only federal grant program wholly dedicated to investments in port infrastructure. This is the latest step in the Port Action Plan (PAP) announced in November, which accelerates investments in our ports, waterways, and freight networks after passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.
Click here to read the latest updates on the progress at our ports.
Attendees at the meeting included:
Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo
Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh
Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese
Port Envoy John Porcari
Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx
Darren Hawkins, CEO of Yellow Corp
Christopher Connor, CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities
Sonia Syngal, CEO of GAP
Dave Harrison, Executive Director of Fastport