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White House scrambles to address looming Christmas crisis

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13.10.2021

President Joe Biden is rushing to relieve congestion across the nation’s complex shipping supply chain as it threatens to disrupt the holiday season for millions of Americans.

With just over 10 weeks until Christmas, the White House is leaning heavily on port operators, transportation companies and labor unions to work around the clock unloading ships and hauling cargo to warehouses around the country. Biden will meet virtually Wednesday with industry leaders before delivering a speech on the administration’s efforts to address the bottlenecks.

The supply-chain mess risks creating new economic and political turbulence for Biden in the coming months. Empty store shelves could undermine the administration’s economic recovery plans and weigh on consumer confidence. And memories of a disappointing Christmas could linger into 2022, with supply-chain problems expected to last much longer than many officials and economists expected just a few months ago.

There’s a growing fear among retailers that Washington’s efforts can do little at this point to save the all-important holiday shopping season.

“There’s no political intervention that’s going to get this done, and there may not be a human intervention that gets this done because this issue is now going to last well into next year,” said Steve Pasierb, the president and chief executive of the Toy Association.

To date, the Biden administration has put much of the onus on the private sector to fix the snarls, despite calls from some industry groups to marshal more federal resources. Senior administration officials say the government has limited oversight of ports and shipping companies. Instead, it has used its heft to convene players throughout the supply chain and put pressure on them to expand their operating hours.

“The supply chain is essentially in the hands of the private sector, so we need the private sector to step up to help solve these problems,” a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the White House will announce that the Port of Los Angeles will remain open 24/7, moving to a........

© Politico


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