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Prioritizing Our Supply Chain

October 22, 2021
Column

It’s alarming to see half-built, new farm equipment sitting idle, car dealerships vacant, and store shelves empty, but this is the harsh reality behind President Biden’s current supply chain crisis. Across the country we are seeing bottlenecks and cargo backups at ports and terminals, as well as an abundance of workforce shortages causing massive delays throughout our supply chain. It is critical we take action now to address the stalemates preventing American products from both being produced and reaching consumers before matters worsen.

The global - and our national - economy runs on a complex web of supply chains, a process by which inputs are manufactured,  distributed, and ultimately sold to the end consumer. These international supply chains rely on transportation networks to move goods – making ports, terminals, and border crossings crucial hubs. Since consumers expect to receive their purchased goods immediately and manufacturers want to maximize profits, we are seeing “just-in-time manufacturing.” This is when facilities keep a bare minimum of stock to save costs and increase efficiency. However, they do not store any backup inputs, meaning these companies are vulnerable if any delays occur in receiving shipments. This will result in companies being unable to fulfill contracts and serve customers both at home and abroad.

We need to get Americans back to work. We need to stop paying people to stay at home, which is precisely what Democrat policies have done by destabilizing our workforce and creating new welfare benefits. Instead, we should be encouraging the American workforce by connecting people with employers who will train and hire them through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reform like my JOBS for Success Act. While our supply chains are increasingly delayed, and our economy is struggling to rebound, the last thing our country needs right now is employers being forced to fire their employees as a direct result of federal overreach with the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates.

With the onset of the pandemic, we saw a massive surge in consumer spending on goods. This occurred at the same time facilities and transportation hubs had to cut back production times and capacity due to social distancing and labor shortages. The ability to find space for goods for export on shipping containers was severely strained while American manufacturers were left waiting for crucial imports to arrive. To put it into perspective, the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, two of our biggest, usually have no ships waiting to anchor. Right now, 100 ships are waiting, taking 10 days on average just to get into port. This does not include unloading and putting these goods on rail or trucks to reach their destination. All these delays add up, increasing costs at the cash register.

It is not hard to see how dangerous broken supply chains can be to the national security and economic resiliency of the United States. That is why we cannot afford to wait any longer – we need a solution, or at the very least a plan. We need to prioritize traditional infrastructure – roads, bridges, and waterways, not multi-trillion-dollar spending sprees on social projects. Improving port infrastructure and road and rail capacity would go a long way toward addressing the supply chain crisis. It is time for the White House and my colleagues in Congress to come together and prioritize finding a sensible solution. The health of the American economy depends on us acting now, and I assure you as the holidays grow closer, it will only get worse. 

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