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Biden: Administration will prioritize addressing 'worrisome' consumer price increases

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Biden: Administration will prioritize addressing 'worrisome' consumer price increases
President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he would prioritize addressing "worrisome" inflation and supply chain concerns as he traveled to Baltimore to promote his recently passed infrastructure bill. Photo Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 10 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday said his administration will prioritize tackling a "worrisome" increase in consumer prices as he traveled to Baltimore on Wednesday to drum up support for the newly passed bipartisan infrastructure bill.

As the bill awaits his signature, Biden addressed worries about consumer prices, which the Labor Department reported rose at the highest rate in 30 years in October, describing it as "one of the most pressing economic concerns of the American people."

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"Everything from a gallon of gas to a loaf of bread costs more and it's worrisome, even though wages are going up," Biden said.

While the president noted strong unemployment numbers, he said his administration would prioritize "getting prices down," ensuring stores are fully stocked and "getting a lot of people back to work."

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"Many people remain unsettled about the economy and we all know why," he said. "They see higher prices. They go to the store ... or online and they can't find what they always want and when they want it. And we're tracking these issues and trying to figure out how to tackle them head on."

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Biden plans to sign the bill, which dedicates $1.2 trillion to keep up existing infrastructure and make repairs to bridges, roads and tunnels nationwide, after it passed by the House on Friday.

On Wednesday he highlighted the fact that the plan includes $17 billion to improve U.S. ports, which have been scrutinized due to the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain and trade.

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"We're going to reduce congestion," Biden said. "We're going to address repair and maintenance backlogs, deploy state-of-the-art technologies and make our ports cleaner and more efficient. And we're going to do the same with our airports and freight rail."

In Baltimore, long an important port city, officials are spending money to add container cranes and Biden's administration is helping to finance an expansion for a century-old tunnel to increase the flow of supplies.

"[It] is an example of the kind of investments that are needed from both the private and the public sector side," a senior administration official said, according the Baltimore Sun.

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Biden announced a plan last month to expand operations at major ports in the Los Angeles area, to allow them to run 24 hours a day. Couriers and retailers such as FedEx, Walmart, Target and Home Depot also will expand their hours to relieve slowdowns in the supply chain.

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"We're going to go 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's already paying off. Last week, the number of container ships in the docks for more than nine days fell by over 20%. And now, we're announcing steps to improve ports on the east coast," he said.

Despite the fact that a number of Republicans also voted to pass what's been a key piece of Biden's agenda, some in the GOP voted against the measure -- signaling that the climate is now so politicized that Biden and Democrats are likely to face at least some Republican opposition to any proposal they put forth in Congress.

Biden's visit to the Port of Baltimore served as a backdrop to sell the infrastructure bill and other priorities not yet passed in Congress, such as his Build Back Better Act -- a multi-trillion-dollar spending blueprint that earmarks funds for several progressive priorities, like climate change and healthcare.

Biden's administration says that decades of neglecting infrastructure needs have led to an overwhelmed system.

This week in Washington

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a news conference on her first day back after being under COVID quarantine, at the White House on Friday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

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