GOP governors call on Biden administration to address supply chain issues

Group of governors launched an initiative that would reduce regulations and collaborate with the private sector to increase the flow of goods across the nation.

Updated: November 24, 2021 - 12:36am

Republican governors, including Georgia's Brian Kemp and Tennessee's Bill Lee, are calling on the Biden administration and other states to take steps to address national supply chain issues.

The group has launched an initiative that would reduce regulations and collaborate with the private sector to increase the flow of goods across the nation.

"Republican governors across the country have committed to doing everything we can to solve a growing supply chain crisis that has resulted in backed-up ports and empty shelves," Lee said in a statement. "We call on the Biden Administration to join us in Operation Open Road by suspending burdensome regulations on the trucking industry and therefore ensuring small businesses and American consumers have access to the goods they need this holiday season."

Shortages in essential products have increased 638% during the first half of 2021, according to the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee. Shipping delays between North American ports and Asia have increased from 14 hours in June 2020 to 13 days as of September, and supermarket fulfillments are 50% below pre-pandemic levels, the committee said.

The group of governors has launched Operation Open Road, which addresses transportation issues that have stalled goods nationally. There is a shortage of more than 80,000 truck drivers, which the group said is an "all-time high" for the trucking industry.

The GOP state leaders have asked President Joe Biden to lower the age requirement for commercial truck drivers from 21 years old to 18 years old. They also want Biden to suspend his private sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees, specifically in the trucking and transportation industry.

The Republican governors asked the administration to revise federal policies that hinder or limit domestic manufacturing of "essential" transportation equipment, such as trucks and tractor-trailers. The governors also want the administration to limit spending that could raise taxes or increase inflation.

The group has pointed to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that shows a small adjustment, such as 12 minutes of additional road time per day, could significantly address industry strain and improve outcomes for a short-staffed industry.

"If we can get government out of the way, our trucking industry can safely do what it does best: move," the governors wrote. "Our state economies are on the rise, and Operation Open Roads will help reinforce America's economic comeback."

Lee signed an executive order Monday directing Tennessee agencies to find regulations that could be lifted to help the trucking industry. He directed the Tennessee Departments of Safety and Homeland Security and Labor to promote commercial driving licensing and training among the formerly incarcerated and military population.

Kemp also is expected to sign an executive order aimed and bolstering Georgia's trucking industry. He said the state had taken proactive measures to protect the state's supply of goods and products.

Kemp led a roundtable discussion with state industry leaders Monday on ways to address the supply issues in the state. Kemp has recommended the federal government does the same. He also urged the administration to eliminate or suspend taxes on new truck purchases, lift the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate and lower the commercial driving age requirement. Kemp said changing the age requirement could add 25,000 drivers a year in Georgia.

"There's been a lot of finger-pointing and blaming at the federal level, and I'm proud to say that in Georgia, we haven't done that," Kemp said. "We've simply rolled up our sleeves and work together to put hardworking Georgians first. Supply chain interruptions don't just hurt job creators. It also hits Georgia families in the wallets and impacts their ability to put food and other goods on the table for their loved ones."

Governors from Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas are also part of the committee. They also are asking for all other governors to follow suit.

"A united front will have ripple effects on the strength of our American workforce and economy," they wrote.

Just the News Spotlight