Biden launches Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force

By Riley SimpsonJune 16, 2021

President Joe Biden has already introduced changes to paid leave and OSHA

President Joe Biden announced the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which will be led by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation and Agriculture to monitor and address transitory supply chain challenges.

With materials shortages persisting, especially with steel form ties in construction, Biden is directing the federal government to come up with public and private solutions to near-term supply-demand mismatches in the sectors of homebuilding and construction, semiconductors, transportation and agriculture and food.

The task force announcement was part of the Biden administration’s reviews under Executive Order 14017 “America’s Supply Chains,” which also oversaw 100-day supply chain assessments for semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging, large-capacity batteries, critical minerals and materials, and pharmaceuticals.

“These efforts are critical because, as the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have shown, structural weaknesses in both domestic and international supply chains threaten America’s economic and national security,” the White House said in a statement. “While amplified by the public health and economic crisis, decades of underinvestment and public policy choices led to fragile supply chains across a range of sectors and products.

“Unfair trade practices by competitor nations and private sector and public policy prioritization of low-cost labor, just-in-time production, consolidation, and private sector focus on short-term returns over long-term investment have hollowed out the U.S. industrial base, siphoned innovation from the United States, and stifled wage and productivity growth,” the statement said.

Associated General Contractors (AGC) criticized the Biden administration’s supply chain solutions.

“The construction industry is experiencing widespread and growing problems with the cost and supply of materials,” said AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. “These challenges will make it more costly and difficult to achieve the administration’s goals for infrastructure, renewable energy and affordable housing.”

According to an AGC statement, Biden could provide immediate relief from soaring prices for lumber, steel and aluminum by removing “harmful” tariffs and quotas.

“Unfortunately, the President’s recommendations ignore that quick and effective approach,” Sandherr said. “Instead, these proposals would limit the ability of workers and employers to fill needed construction positions. Imposing mandated hiring percentages from certain localities and training programs, dictating inflexible labor agreements and setting artificially high pay rates will diminish the number of firms and workers available to carry out vital infrastructure and other construction programs.”

Although the pandemic and the economic hardships of the past year have ravaged supply chains across the U.S. and have caused serious materials shortages, Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu is projecting healthy growth for construction in 2021.

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