The Biden administration is announcing the creation of a federal task force on Tuesday to address supply-chain “bottlenecks” that have led to coronavirus-related shortages and price increases on everything from computer chips to medical supplies.
Led by the departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Commerce, the task force will coordinate the spending of tens of billions of previously authorized funds to encourage more domestic manufacturing of products such as advanced batteries and pharmaceutical ingredients, senior administration officials said.
One official said the administration expects the current price increases and shortages to be “transitory.”
“Reviving a dormant global economy following an unprecedented pandemic will not operate in a straight line,” the official said.
Analysts say a combination of the pandemic, low-cost inventory management, severe weather and cyberattacks have resulted in chronic shipping delays and shortages of lumber, plastics, imported foods, furniture and hundreds of other products.
Under the administration’s new initiative, the Health and Human Services Department will use authority under the Defense Production Act to spend $60 million on advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, and research and development. The pandemic has highlighted the risks of the U.S. relying on countries such as China and India for the key active ingredients needed for crucial medicines, Biden officials said.
A public-private consortium will select 50-100 drugs from the Food and Drug Administration’s “essential medicines” list to be the focus of enhanced domestic production.
Further, the Commerce Department will evaluate whether to start a so-called Section 232 investigation into the production of neodymium magnets, which are critical parts in motors and other devices, to determine if national security requires greater domestic supply.
Officials also said that the U.S. relies too much on Taiwan for its supply of semiconductor chips that are used in a wide variety of products including smartphones and computers.
The Department of Energy will authorize $17 billion in loans to enhance the domestic battery supply chain for cars and trucks.
The Agriculture Department will spend $4 billion on steps to ensure more secure production, transportation and processing of foods domestically.
The president signed an executive order shortly after taking office to conduct a 100-day review of shortages in drugs, batteries and other products. The task force is one result of that review.