Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg predicted on Sunday that supply chain issues facing the US will continue into 2022, but stressed that Congress potentially passing President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal is the best way to help alleviate those problems.
“Certainly a lot of the challenges that we’ve been experiencing this year will continue into next year. But there are both short-term and long-term steps that we can take to do something about it,” Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
“Look, part of what’s happening isn’t just the supply side, it’s the demand side. Demand is off the charts,” he added. “This is one more example of why we need to pass the infrastructure bill. There are $17 billion in the President’s infrastructure plan for ports alone and we need to deal with these long-term issues that have made us vulnerable to these kinds of bottlenecks when there are demand fluctuations, shocks and disruptions like the ones that have been caused by the pandemic.”
The comments from the secretary come as Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill makes its way through Congress, where it has already passed the Senate but is now stalled in the House. The legislation includes money for roads, bridges and public transportation, and would also provide funds to reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports.
Asked by Tapper if he was frustrated that House progressives’ demands to not vote on the physical infrastructure bill until the social infrastructure bill was also ready for a vote, Buttigieg said both pieces of legislation are needed to address the current issues stemming from the pandemic, including inflation.
“One thing that has not been talked about enough is (Moody’s) finding about how the overall “Build Back Better” vision is designed to reduce inflationary pressures. So if you care about inflation, you ought to care about not just the supply chain issues, not just the infrastructure things I work on, but also the provisions in “Build Back Better” like paid family leave, like making it easier to afford childcare, like community college, that are going to give us a stronger labor force and help us deal with that major constraint on economic growth,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of Biden lifting tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump against China – something that could relieve some of the stress pandemic-related supply chain issues are putting on US companies – Buttigieg said that “every idea is being taken seriously,” but would not elaborate further.
Buttigieg also stressed that the administration has to act to address the climate crisis after reports that the cornerstone climate policy in Democrats’ massive social infrastructure package will likely be dropped from the final deal after Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia pushed back on it.
“The administration and the President are committed to bold climate action. Exactly what legislative form that takes is what’s being negotiated right now. But the bottom line is we have to act on climate for the good of our children and, by way, for the good of our economy,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional details Sunday.