President Biden is taking a stab at unplugging container-clogged ports. The White House announced August 27 that it would appoint John D. Porcari to Biden’s supply-chain disruption task force as its port envoy.
International supply chains around the world are in the midst of a monthslong disruption due to spikes in demand and delays exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to address those issues, President Biden announced the Biden-Harris task force on supply chain disruptions shortly after entering office.
One of the major issues facing supply chains right now is port congestion. The Department of Transportation noted Friday that the price of shipping containers has jumped 90% since 2019 and containerized cargo volumes have increased 40% compared to last year at the two biggest ports in the U.S., Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called Porcari “uniquely qualified” to work on port congestion thanks to his experience with public and private port infrastructure.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is using a whole-of-government approach to work with labor and industry leadership to identify, reduce and eliminate maritime supply chain issues,” said Buttigieg. “Envoy Porcari’s leadership in both the public and private infrastructure sectors make him uniquely qualified to work with stakeholders and federal agencies to address supply chain disruptions.”
Porcari, 62, previously worked as deputy secretary of transportation under Obama and as transportation secretary of Maryland. Under Obama, Porcari helped oversee U.S. port, intermodal and maritime policy in the United States as well as maritime-related grant programs. The White House also credited Porcari with significant improvements made to the Port of Baltimore, including a public-private partnership to expand a container terminal, add a new container berth and install state-of-the-art cranes.
“The pandemic has fundamentally disrupted our supply chains which is impacting consumers, workers, and businesses across the country,” Porcari said in a statement. He added that he was “excited to hit the ground running and get to work immediately with industry, labor, and other port stakeholders” on congestion.
The federal infrastructure plan passed by the Senate includes $17 billion in funding for ports and waterways.