1 of 4 | President Joe Biden (L) listens to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg (R) speak during an event to discuss efforts to reduce costs for customers by strengthening supply chains at the White House on Monday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 27 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Monday announced dozens of new policy initiatives designed to strengthen the U.S. supply chain while lowering prices for inflation-weary American consumers.
Speaking at the first meeting of his new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, the president launched 30 new policy initiatives ranging across the the nation's economic sectors deemed critical to the United States' economic and national security.
Supply chain difficulties have sparked inflation since the COVID-19 pandemic, but prices have eased in recent months while inflation grew at a 3.4% clip over the 12 months ending in October -- down by 60% from its peak rate in June 2022, the administration says.
Referencing the just-completed Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Biden noted that while pandemic-era logistical bottlenecks have loosened their grip on the economy, "kitchen-table" economic concerns are still front-and-center among Americans as the 2024 presidential election looms.
"From turkey to air travel to the cost of a gallon of gas, prices went down," he said. "In fact, this Thanksgiving was the fourth-cheapest ever on record."
While goods were backed up at ocean ports due to logistical challenges last year, this Thanksgiving, "shelves were stocked" and prices lower.
"These savings matter to so many families, especially at this time of year," he declared.
American consumers, though, still need more "breathing room" to make ends meet, Biden said, vowing to tap the new initiative to make the coordination and delivery of good more efficient, thus lowering costs.
The new supply chain council includes numerous Cabinet members such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, senior administration officials and trade representatives whose task is to develop post-pandemic strategies to boost America's capacity to move goods. The group plans to complete a comprehensive review of the supply chain by the end of 2024.
Buttigieg praised the administration's efforts to restore shipping efficiencies since the pandemic-era disruptions and said the new council aims not just to "get American supply chains back to where they were before the pandemic but to make our supply chains more durably resilient and to bring more of the elements home to American soil."
The effort comes as polls shows Biden trailing likely Republican nominee Donald Trump in key swing states, with majorities indicating they trust the GOP to better handle the economy.
But Biden took some hard swings at Trump's stated policy aims in a possible second term without directly naming him, asserting they would exacerbate inflation, while also blasting Republican congressional efforts to roll back key sections of his Inflation Reduction Act.
"Bottom line, they want to make the entire supply chain more vulnerable," Biden said. "Their plan would offshore jobs, raise costs for seniors by repealing the insulin price resolution, the caps on out-of-pocket drug expenses, and the ability to negotiate lower drug prices that I secured in the Inflation Reduction Act."
The new initiatives will include $275 million from the Energy Department for clean-energy efforts in communities affected by coal mine or coal power plant closures, as well as $196 million from the Agriculture Department to strengthen food supply chains in 37 states and Puerto Rico.
Biden's plan also calls for more data-sharing between the government agencies to identify risks and cultivate new data that would potentially bring further federal actions to increase supply chain resilience nationwide.
The administration aims to monitor climate impacts and shore up the raw minerals supply chain as officials continue to prioritize domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
As part of the plan, Biden plans to expand the authority of the Health and Human Services Department to boost domestic manufacturing of emergency medicines and rely less on foreign suppliers, which Biden deems critical to national defense.
The government will seek to establish new partnerships with private sector stakeholders to "avoid bottlenecks, shorten lead times for customers, and enable a more resilient and globally competitive freight network," the White House said in a statement.
Many of Biden's announcements are focused on global efforts to boost the supply chain, including partnerships with the European Union, Japan and South Korea to establish an early warning system for semiconductor supply chain disruptions.
The United States is also seeking emergency trade pacts with Canada and Mexico, while strengthening trade throughout the Western hemisphere through the Americas Partnership and several other international efforts.
Previously, Biden signed an executive order to boost the supply chain, and during the COVID-19 pandemic he established a task force to work with communities to address supply chain disruptions.
The Defense Department invested $714 million in 2023 to support defense supply chains, while Biden's legislative agenda, including the Inflation Reduction Act, have also worked to expand production capacity, lower prices, and increase the overall flow of goods, the White House said.