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Supply chains: President Biden meets with executives on shipping bottlenecks

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Yahoo Finance's Washington correspondent Jessica Smith reports the latest on the meeting between President Biden and corporate executives on the state of supply chain disruptions.

Video transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Supply delays continue to plague businesses across the country. President Biden meeting with CEOs at the White House today to get an update on any progress on that front. Let's bring in Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith, and, Jess, we're talking about his supply chain task force CEOs from the likes of FedEx as well as GAP. What did we hear in terms of any improvement that's been made?

JESSICA SMITH: Yeah, the president did speak at the top of this meeting when cameras were allowed in, and he did say that there has been progress made. Again, he's meeting with these executives to try and get a handle on the supply chain issues that we've been talking about for months now. At the top of the meeting, President Biden did say increasing prices are top of mind for him. He said there has been progress made so far, especially when it comes to issues around the ports and making sure shelves were stocked ahead of the holidays.

The president noted that on-shelf availability pre-pandemic was at 91%, and he says now that number is at 90%. You'll remember the president did put together a task force in June to try and deal with all of these issues. He pushed to expand trucking hours and hours at ports, and tomorrow, he says the transportation department will announce more grants for ports.

We also heard from the FedEx CEO at this meeting just a short time ago, and he said that supply chain issues are not all solved, but progress is being made. And he is optimistic. He said, peak season is going to be a good one, and you might remember at the last meeting like this we heard from the Walmart CEO, who said, all of the efforts around the ports and trucking hours were helping the flow of goods.

Still, the president noted there is more work to do on this when it comes to shipping times and higher prices for consumers. He laid out a little bit of what he plans to do going forward. He says the administration has been investigating those excessive shipping times and potential illegal conduct in the oil and gas market.

The White House also noted today that the price at the pump is down $0.12 per gallon since the peak last month. And the president said he's going to convene his competition council in January to ensure robust competition across industries. This is something that he's working on that he says is a hallmark of healthy capitalism.

So in order to solve these issues in the long run though, in order to make more progress, the president, once again, urged Congress to pass his Build Back Better Act. Of course, that has stalled recently after Senator Manchin said he could not support it as it stands now. But President Biden is, again, still pushing that legislation. And Republicans have been seizing on all of the supply chain and pricing issues politically, so this is something that the White House definitely wants to get under control before the midterms next year. Akiko.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, and, Jess, on that Build Back Better, we did hear the president yesterday. In talking, the press-- he was talking about the vaccines and the variant but really used that opportunity to say, with that now being put on hold, even Goldman Sachs lowered its outlook for 2022. What are we hearing about any discussions that are happening behind the scenes between the president and Senator Manchin, or is that pretty much on hold right now until the new year?

JESSICA SMITH: I think it's definitely going to be back in force in the new year, once they start working on this again to try and figure out something. We've heard from Democratic leaders and the White House that they're not giving up on this. And I think you've heard some frustration from the White House when you hear these concerns from Republicans and from Senator Manchin when they're talking about inflation and concerns about the deficit. The White House argues that this bill is paid for and that in the long run will actually help these pricing issues, so it's definitely going to be back front of mind, I think, at the beginning of the new year as they try to figure out some sort of compromise, some sort of the way forward, to get Senator Manchin to support at least some version of this bill.

AKIKO FUJITA: Jessica Smith with that update. Thanks so much for that.

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