White House announces new steps for long-term supply chain resilience

The Gerda Maersk seen docked at the Dundalk-Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore’s in Baltimore Md., on Wednesday, November 10, 2021.
Greg Nash

The White House announced steps focusing on long-term supply chain resilience to mark the one-year anniversary since President Biden signed an executive order to strengthen the nations supply chains in the midst of disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The executive order, signed one year ago on Thursday, involved an all-government approach to assessing vulnerabilities in the supply chain and senior administration officials said supply chains has been “a personal focus for President Biden.”

Officials also said that, because of focus on supply chains, the U.S. is prepared to combat any disruptions that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would cause to the American economy.

On Thursday, seven cabinet agencies will publish reports identifying key weaknesses in supply chains, devising multi-year strategies to address them. The White House is also publishing a capstone report that provides an overview of the key actions the administration has taken.

Officials called the report a “crucial milestone” and called supply chain resilience “an enduring national priority.

“We know that our work is far from over,” officials said.

Officials announced new steps, including providing funding from the bipartisanship infrastructure law to move critical goods from ships to shelves faster and cheaper. The steps also aim to build on last year’s American Rescue Plan’s toward a more competitive and resilient meat and poultry supply chain, providing $25 million in grants for the food processing workforce.

The administration also aims to expand access to capital for small manufacturers, advance technological leadership of small and large manufacturers, and invest in sustainable domestic production and processing of critical minerals. Additionally, the Export-Import Bank board will vote on a new domestic initiative, including providing financing priority to environmentally beneficial small businesses this spring.

The administration plans to issue a Buy American rule that will create a new category of critical products that will be eligible for enhanced price preferences. The rule will allow the federal government to pay an additional premium for critical domestic-made products essential to the supply chain and allow American manufacturers an easier time securing government contracts.

It will also expand the Department of Health and Human Services’ Defense Product Act office to provide loans and grants to ensure timely availability of essential domestic industrial resources.  The Energy Department will develop an Energy Supply Chains Office to secure the energy supply chains needed to modernize the energy infrastructure, and the administration will host a Ministerial-level Summit on Global Supply Chain Resilience later this year.

Officials said that the America Competes Act, also referred to as the China competition bill, will help with long-term supply chain resilience. The bill is aimed at bolstering domestic supply chains and scientific research and it passed the House in February, passed the Senate in June, and now both chambers will have to reach an agreement on what goes in the final bill in order for it to pass.

Officials touted the work of the administration so far, including the addition of 367,000 manufacturing jobs during Biden’s first year in office, which is the most in nearly 30 years, manufacturing as a share of U.S. Gross Domestic Product returning to pre-pandemic levels.

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