Buttigieg touts supply achievements at ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach

AP-Evan Vucci

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg touted the Biden administration’s efforts to avoid further supply chain disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic during a visit to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Tuesday.

“As long as the pandemic persists, as long as we are making up for decades of past disinvestment, we are going to see impacts on shipping times and shipping cost,” Buttigieg said during a press conference at the Port of Long Beach.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (D) and California Democratic Reps. Alan Lowenthal, Annette Barragan and Ted Lieu also joined the press conference.

“When there is an issue effecting ports here, you will feel it as far away as my Indiana hometown,” Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., said.

While he praised the operations at ports over the holiday season, he noted that goods have to keep flowing to address the ongoing pandemic.

“Not only is this about the presents under the tree, this is about essential goods like medical goods that are needed in this moment of continued public health challenge,” he said.

He highlighted the recent $52 million grant for the Port of Long Beach and mentioned that $17 billion more has been committed to ports from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Biden signed into law in November.

Buttigieg called the movement of goods around the holiday season “an extraordinary achievement,” noting that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach processed 14 percent more containers compared to those processed in 2018 over the same time period, which set a record high.

“One of the reasons why Christmas was not in fact canceled is that ports like L.A. and Long Beach moved record levels or goods, allowing an all-time record high in terms of retail sales his holiday season,” he said.

Holiday sales rose 8.5 percent compared to 2020 and 10.7 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019, according to data from Mastercard. And, U.S. retailers, excluding auto makers, made $465 billion in inventories as of Nov. 30, according to a memo released by the White House last week.

Garcetti called Buttigieg the “man who saved Christmas” while introducing the secretary on Tuesday.

Garcetti has been tapped by Biden to serve as ambassador to India, and Buttigieg said he looks forward to him joining the administration if he is confirmed.

Tags Alan Lowenthal Eric Garcetti Pete Buttigieg Ted Lieu

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