President Joe Biden ordered a review of critical supply chains Wednesday, acknowledging concerns about America’s ability to acquire critical items for manufacturing.
The president spoke after meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress to discuss the issue.
“This is a critical area where Republicans and Democrats agreed, it was one of the best meetings I think we’ve had so far,” he said, noting that he had been president for about five weeks. “It was like the old days, people were actually on the same page.”
Biden focused on recent glaring examples of shortages of personal protective equipment during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and recent shortages of semiconductor chips, slowing auto manufacturing.
The president did not specifically mention America’s over-reliance on countries like China for critical supplies but hinted about the dangers that the country faced.
“We shouldn’t have to rely on a foreign country, especially one that doesn’t share our interests or our values,” Biden says.
The president signed an executive order that would deploy a 100-day review of ways to strengthen the supply of semiconductors, rare earths, pharmaceuticals, and advanced batteries.
But Biden steered clear of the America First strategy routinely voiced by his predecessor.
He said that “in some cases” Americans needed to start producing critical items in the United States but that it was important to “reach out to American allies” for backup.
“We all recognize that the particular problem won’t be solved immediately,” he said.
Biden did not acknowledge his history of supporting foreign trade deals that effectively cratered America’s manufacturing base.
But he did acknowledge the importance of spending more money in the United States to develop strong supply chains and provide good-paying jobs for Americans.
During his speech, Biden recalled a proverb about “for the want of a nail” in a horseshoe that led to the loss of a horse, a rider, a battle, and ultimately a kingdom.
Holding up a semi-conductor chip, Biden explained that it was a “21st Century horseshoe nail” that was used in almost every area of American life.
“We need to stop playing catch up after the supply chain crisis hit,” he said. “We need to prevent the supply chain crisis from hitting in the first place.”