White House rushes with infrastructure fixes for US economy

A truck passes a container ship at the Port of Oakland in California. President Biden spoke with the CEOs of Walmart, Target, UPS and FedEx on Tuesday about how to relieve supply chain challenges.

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Biden administration is relying on infrastructure dollars to help fix clogged ports and blanket the nation with internet access — but a series of initiatives rolled out on Tuesday might not take effect quickly enough to address the immediate needs of an economy coping with a supply chain squeeze and a shift to remote work.

President Biden spoke with the CEOs of Walmart, Target, UPS and FedEx on Tuesday about how to relieve the supply chain challenges as ships are still waiting to dock at some of the country’s leading ports, which are seeing record volumes of shipping containers as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

Biden received updates from the CEOs on how deliveries are being sped up to ensure that store shelves will be well-stocked this holiday season, according to a White House official.

Despite the concrete policy steps being discussed by the administration, experts say there’s no quick fix for supply chain issues that are hurting businesses and causing consumers to face higher prices. Nor can the administration build out a national broadband network fast enough as more Americans are pivoting toward remote work.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo highlighted at a White House briefing the $65 billion for broadband access in the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package that cleared the House on Friday. She said jobs would be created and poorer Americans would receive “affordable” internet service, though she did not provide specifics on cost.

The plan involves careful logistics that will take time to implement. Each state is set to receive at least $100 million to help lay fiber-optic cables to ensure that citizens can access the internet.

“The president wants us to get it right,” Raimondo said. “And if it takes a little longer to lay the groundwork for fiber and broadband, then we’re going to do that.”

Similarly, the administration announced plans Tuesday to identify and pay for possible upgrades to U.S. ports within the next 90 days, hoping to ultimately tamp down the inflation being caused by ships waiting to dock and unload goods — and by a shortage of truck drivers to haul them.

Senior administration officials said Tuesday that the Transportation Department would allow port authorities to redirect any leftover money from grant projects to address supply chain issues. For example, the Georgia Ports Authority will use $8 million to convert its inland facilities for the port of Savannah into container yards, freeing up dock space.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the forthcoming plans, which come on the heels of passage of the infrastructure package late Friday. It includes $17 billion to improve coastal and land-based ports to help fix long-term issues.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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(1) comment

Judd Grossman

Infrastructure bill contains 90% BS.

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