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Transportation secretary says US will ‘continue to see challenges’ with supply chain issues into the holidays

<i>CNN</i><br/>Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the US will keep seeing supply chain issues as the holiday season approaches.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the US will keep seeing supply chain issues as the holiday season approaches.

By Jasmine Wright

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the US will keep seeing supply chain issues as the holiday season approaches, adding that it takes more than just federal efforts to tackle shortages and bottleneck issues.

“We are going to continue to see challenges. The steps that we’re taking are making a difference but think about all the things that have to happen to get a product to a shelf on time,” Buttigieg said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked by Dana Bash if he expected persistent delays to continue through the holiday season.

“Fundamentally, it’s up to the producers, the shippers and the retailers and we’re doing everything we can to help them move those goods across the infrastructure that’s often outdated,” he added.

The Biden administration has taken steps to try to ease stress on the US supply chain as it prompts growing concern about the economy, like directing the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to move to 24/7 operations. President Joe Biden said at a CNN town hall earlier this month that he was even considering deploying the National Guard to aid in the effort, though a White House official later told CNN shortly after that the administration is not actively considering the option.

Still, businesses and outside groups have encouraged the administration to take further action to shake loose the supply chain.

“The pandemic is poking holes in supply no matter how good any company or any administration is. We’re going to keep working on things like the port issues smoothing out anything else that is within our control, but the only way we can really put these disruptions behind us is to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, which is why the President has been leading decisively to do just that,” Buttigieg said.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Buttigieg and host Chris Wallace got into a spirited exchange on whether Biden’s proposed economic agenda could in fact tackle inflation, another issue for Americans who have seen higher gas prices along with rising costs in other day-to-day products.

“The reason this bill will fight inflation among other things is that we have a drag on our economy in labor supply because a lot of parents aren’t going back to work because they can’t find childcare,” Buttigieg told Wallace, defending the administration’s policies as they look to pass Biden’s sweeping economic agenda.

Biden’s newly announced framework for his social safety net expansion package encompasses a wide array of Democratic priorities, including expanding public preschool and childcare. It also includes $555 billion in measures to combat climate change.

“This administration has been talking down minimizing inflation for months. I mean, you know the word that keeps being used by this administration, I suspect you’ve said it transitory. The fact is it isn’t transitory,” Wallace shot back, citing a theory from multiple economic experts that inflation will continue into 2022.

Buttigieg said the administration is starting to see short term transitory inflation efforts come down, which he cited were higher as a consequence of this pandemic.

“There are so many things that are still happening in our economy, distortions, disruptions, things in our supply chain that are affecting prices, that are clearly a direct consequence of the pandemic, which is why the best thing we can do for our economy in the short term, and to deal with these transitory issues is to put the pandemic behind us,” Buttigieg said. “The best thing we can do for the long run for issues around pricing and supply chain is better infrastructure so the goods can move smoothly in this country.”

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