Biden invokes Cold War-era measure to boost medical supplies

Biden invokes Cold War-era measure to boost medical supplies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Monday invoked a Cold War-era measure to boost investment in U.S. manufacturing of medicines and medical supplies that he has deemed important for national defense.

Biden used the first meeting of his supply chain resilience council to boast about his administration efforts to improve supply chains upended by the COVID pandemic and help bring inflation under control, but acknowledged more work needs to be done.

“We know that prices are still too high for too many things, that times are still too tough for too many families,” Biden said. “But we’ve made progress.”

Biden invoked the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to boost investment in U.S. manufacturing of medicines and medical supplies. The announcement is part of a series of 30 measures the administration announced to help industrial supply chains and counter historically high inflation.

Biden authorized the Department of Health and Human Services to use powers under the act to enable investments in “essential medicines,” the White House said.The areas of investment also include “medical countermeasures,” which include supplies that diagnose, prevent, or treat diseases related to chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attacks.

The federal government will also improve its ability to monitor supply chains by sharing data among agencies. The Commerce Department, for example, has developed new tools to gauge risks to the supply chain will work with the Energy Department on the supply of renewable energy resources.

Biden, a Democrat who is running for re-election in 2024, is eager to show Americans that he is tackling inflation and addressing broad concerns about the U.S. economy.

While consumer prices are down from last year’s peaks, polling shows inflation remains a political challenge for Biden going into the election.

Lael Brainard, head of Biden’s National Economic Council, told reporters on a conference call that supply chain stress had come down from record highs hit during the COVID-19 pandemic but more work needed to be done.

U.S. consumers may benefit from the cheapest holiday shopping period in years for TVs, toys, dresses, and sporting goods, according to retail executives, federal pricing data and exclusive analysis of early Black Friday discounts.

Biden said U.S. consumers need only look at local retail stores to see signs of the administration’s success at tackling broken supply chains.

“As folks start their holiday shopping, shelves are stocked,” Biden said.

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