President Biden touted the efforts of his supply chain disruption team on Wednesday even as White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted that the administration cannot guarantee the on-time arrival of Christmas presents amid global supply chain delays and gridlocked U.S. ports.
“I want to thank my Supply Chain Disruption Task Force, which we set up in June, led by Secretaries [Pete] Buttigieg, [Gina] Raimondo, and [Tom] Vilsack, and by my Director of National Economic Council Bryan Deese. I want to thank them for their leadership,” the president said.
He singled out John Porcari, whom the administration tapped as port envoy in August.
“I especially want to thank Joe Porcari, and I think Joe’s done one heck of a job, my special envoy specifically on ports, who’s been working this issue with all the stakeholders for the past several weeks,” the president added.
But ports are clogged and Santa may be coming late with his presents, suggesting the praise could be premature. George W. Bush once got called out for telling FEMA Director Michael Brown, amid the unaddressed devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.”
During another press briefing on Wednesday, Psaki said the White House “cannot guarantee” that Christmas presents will arrive on time.
“We are not the Postal Service, UPS or FedEx. We cannot guarantee,” Psaki said. “What we can do is use every lever at the federal government’s disposal to reduce delays, to ensure we are addressing bottlenecks in the system, including ports and the need for them to be open longer hours so that goods can arrive. And we continue to press — not only workers and unions — but also companies to take as many steps as they can to reduce these delays.”
Biden announced Wednesday that more U.S. ports will be working 24 hours a day and seven days a week, beefing up their schedules from the regular Monday to Friday hours, and that companies have made improvements to address supply chain issues.
Even so, supply chain problems remain a mounting concern as global economies attempt to meet surging demand and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortages of basic household items, such as toilet paper, raw materials needed for construction, and critical tech components like semiconductors have contributed to a surge in prices for consumers.
Despite the administration’s efforts – which may include relaxing regulations on truckers – the supply chain Grinch could steal some of the highly anticipated Christmas presents.
“There will be things that people can’t get,” a senior White House official told Reuters when asked about holiday shopping.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.