EXCLUSIVE: A group of Republican governors is blaming President Biden as it spotlights that "the American supply chain is in crisis," and it is vowing to work to restore "the free and fast flow of commerce."
The 15 governors, in an effort spearheaded by Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee, pledged in a letter that was shared first with Fox News on Monday to "take action to address workforce shortages and prevent bottlenecks, logjams, and other transportation issues."
Slowdowns in manufacturing and transportation woes this year, due to COVID-19 outbreaks amid the worst pandemic to strike the world in a century, have caused severe global supply chain breakdowns. And while the problems are beginning to recede, manufacturing, shipping and retail executives do not predict a return to normalcy until next year at the earliest. The supply chain crisis has helped fuel a spike this summer and autumn in consumer prices across the nation.
The Republican governors signing the letter highlighted that from "coastal ports to inland ports to road and rail, our states can take action to address workforce shortages and prevent bottlenecks, logjams, and other transportation issues."
In addition to Lee, the governors signing the letter are Greg Abbott of Texas, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Brad Little of Idaho, Henry McMaster of South Carolina, Mike Parson of Missouri, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, and Doug Burgum of North Dakota.
The governors charged in their letter that "rather than unleashing the economy, President Biden dramatically increased regulations and rulemaking authority that prevent private sector growth."
And they argued that the president’s COVID vaccine mandates on private businesses are "putting more jobs in jeopardy as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic."
"With 7.4 million people unemployed and 10.4 million job openings, we have a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, an all-time high for the trucking industry," they continued. "With more paychecks at risk, American families are forced to pay more for food, gas, and everyday goods as inflation surges to a 30-year high under President Biden’s watch."
The president, at a gathering last month of the leaders of the world’s largest economies, took several steps to tackle the supply chain problems.
"Solving this is going to take all of us — government and private industry, labor unions and research institutions," Biden told reporters during a Group of 20 summit in Italy.
The governors, in their letter, said they "commit to using our authority where allowable to modify weight, size, or load restrictions to allow more cargo to move more efficiently; adjust hours of service constraints to provide truck drivers more time and flexibility; deregulate education and occupational licensure barriers to get more commercial truck drivers on the road."
They also said they would "convene state agencies in transportation, commerce, workforce, and other related fields to coordinate with private industry, local governments, and neighboring states where appropriate to ensure greater efficiency, connectivity, and data sharing among shippers and receivers at ports, distribution points, storage facilities, and other intrastate corridors for the expedited loading, unloading, and transport of freight."
The governors with states that have costal ports also committed "to support our ports to operate at full capacity, increase tonnage capacity, and accept more Panamax ships waiting off the west coast."
The governors called on the Biden administration "to suspend outdated federal regulations that unnecessarily require commercial driver’s license holders to be 21 years old and lower the age to 18 years old so that well-trained, working adults can work across state borders."
They also urged the president to suspend what they claim is "the burdensome federal mandate for COVID-19 vaccines for all private employees, specifically for the trucking and transportation industry," in order to prevent driver shortages from being "further exacerbated by an additional barrier to employment."