President Joe Biden spoke with the chief executive officers of Walmart Inc., United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and Target Corp. on Tuesday to discuss easing supply chain bottlenecks, according to a White House official.
Biden and the executives — Walmart’s Doug McMillon, UPS’s Carol B. Tome, Fred Smith of FedEx and Target’s Brian Cornell — talked about potential moves to speed up deliveries and lower prices, the official said, without elaborating.
The executives told the president that store shelves will be well stocked for the holiday season, the official said. Biden has been under pressure to clear supply-chain logjams and ease inflationary pressures as consumers begin their holiday shopping.
Earlier Tuesday, the Biden administration unveiled a plan to ease bottlenecks at ports, before the president’s visit to the Port of Baltimore to promote the infrastructure legislation Congress cleared for his signature last week. The measures include allowing ports to spend unused grant money on projects to ease congestion, like temporary container storage yards, and a pledge to open the first round of the infrastructure bill’s port grants within 90 days.
Biden touted the ports plan and the upcoming infrastructure program on the call with the executives, the official said. The White House has indicated that Biden will sign the bill next week.
Target said in a statement later Tuesday that “we’ve been delivering on commitments made to the White House Supply Chain Task force to boost supply chain efficiency and ease port congestion. This included increasing our night time processing of containers, building on our existing practices of moving about half of our containers at night.”
“We support the administration’s actions to bring together businesses, carriers and port operators to tackle the supply chain challenges,” Target added in the statement.
UPS and Walmart declined to comment. FedEx said in a statement that Smith and the company “appreciated the opportunity to discuss this important issue with the administration.”
The U.S. supply chain has strained under record-breaking demand because of growing e-commerce, worker shortages and a shift to material goods as Americans avoided travel and social outings over the course of the pandemic.
Biden’s moves have included brokering agreements to shift to round-the-clock operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and pledges from retailers to expand their own shipping.