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Biden Announces New Steps to Address Supply-Chain Disruptions

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Bloomberg — President Joe Biden took several steps to address supply-chain problems as he met leaders from major global economies, including the European Union, to address recent disruptions.

He issued an executive order during the Group of 20 summit on Sunday aimed at speeding up the response to shortfalls of supplies, equipment and raw materials housed in the U.S.’s National Defense Stockpile.

The U.S. also is boosting funding to Mexico and Central America to alleviate supply bottlenecks and to improve customs and clearance procedures, the White House announced Sunday.

“Solving this is going to take all of us — government and private industry, labor unions and research institutions,” Biden told reporters as he convened a meeting of international leaders in Rome.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will convene a summit next year with their international counterparts to bring together companies, labor organizations, indigenous groups and academics to identify more steps to bolster the resilience of supply chains, according to the White House.

Biden ordered a broad review of U.S. supply chains this year as the economic disruption of the coronavirus pandemic triggered shortages of everything from computer chips used in cars to medical supplies and bicycles.

His defense-related order puts the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer in charge of deciding whether and when to release raw materials from the National Defense Stockpile.

The Pentagon’s under secretary for acquisition and sustainment “may release strategic and critical materials from the National Defense Stockpile for use, sale, or other disposition only when required for use, manufacture, or production for purposes of national defense,” according to a White House statement.

The NDS is a raw materials-based stockpile of 42 commodities meant to decrease or prevent “dependence upon foreign and single points of supply for strategic and critical materials needed in times of national emergency,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

“No release is authorized for economic or budgetary purposes,” according to the executive order.

The Defense Department will make decisions in coordination with other government agency heads. There’s currently no congressionally confirmed undersecretary. The Biden administration hasn’t named a nominee since July when its first candidate withdrew.

–With assistance from Jennifer Epstein.

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