“We are not the Postal Service or UPS or FedEx,” Psaki said in response to a question about packages arriving on time or products being available during the holiday season. “We cannot guarantee. What we can do is use every lever at the federal government’s disposal to reduce delays.”
With just over two months until Christmas Day, the White House is now asking UPS, FedEx, Walmart, and other entities to commit to increasing the number of shifts to deal with a backlog of containers in the Port of Los Angeles and elsewhere, according to a fact sheet. President Joe Biden on Wednesday is meeting with the heads of the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, as well as executives in UPS, Walmart, and FedEx
“We can’t overpromise here, and I’m not going to do that because we know there are a lot of issues in the global supply chain,” Psaki continued.
Despite Psaki’s remarks, some Biden administration officials and Democrats have expressed concerns that shortages and supply chain issues could become another political headache for the administration. Empty store shelves and long online shopping wait times could undercut Biden’s economic messaging and recovery plans, giving more ammunition to Republicans as they try to retake Congress during the 2022 midterms.
Vice President Kamala Harris warned in August that “if you want to have Christmas toys for your children, it might be the time to start buying them because the delay may be many, many months,” referring to the freight backlog and shortage of truckers and other workers.
And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that supply chain bottlenecks will “take years and years to address” due to the pandemic. “It goes to the very foundations of how our trade works,” he said. “But what we’re seeing is that, piled up next to an issue created by the recovery from the pandemic.”
Supply chain problems and inflation have lasted longer than some administration officials and economists anticipated, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen predicting on Tuesday night in a CBS News interview that such issues are transitory.
GOP lawmakers are now starting to tie shortages and disruptions to Biden’s Sept. 9 speech that he will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for federal contractors and federal workers, as well as requiring private businesses with more than 100 or more employees to force their employees to get the vaccine or submit to regular testing.
Experts and analysts have recommended that consumers shopping for Christmas gifts should start buying their gifts early instead of waiting until Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—often considered the start of the holiday season.
“Major retailers are expecting a strong holiday shopping season but have warned of limited inventories, longer shipping times, labor shortages, and fewer discounts,” Morgan Stanley economists said in a recent note to investors last week.