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White House clarifies Biden does NOT have power to mobilize Guard to fix supply chain crisis

The White House has walked back a number of remarks President Biden made in a CNN town hall Thursday night. 

A White House official said that the Biden administration is ‘not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard on a federal level.’ 

‘Requesting the use of the National Guard at the state level is under the purview of governors,’ the official clarified, according to multiple news outlets. 

‘The answer is yes,’ the president said, asked if he would send in the guard to alleviate supply chain issues that are leading to product shortages and rampant inflation. ‘Absolutely, positively,’ he added. 

Asked if he would consider sending in the guard to drive trucks, the president said: ‘Yes, if we can’t increase the number of truckers.’ 

‘The answer is yes,’ the president said, asked if he would send in the guard to alleviate supply chain issues that are leading to product shortages and rampant inflation

Cargo container trucks wait in line to enter AMP Terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, Oct. 20,

Cargo container trucks wait in line to enter AMP Terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, Oct. 20,

A White House official said that the Biden administration is 'not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard on a federal level'

A White House official said that the Biden administration is ‘not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard on a federal level’ 

Biden said ‘I had a timetable for, first of all to get the ports up and running,’ before he would call up the guard. He noted commitments he had from major corporations like Walmart, FedEx and UPS to run 24/7 operations to help the congested supply chain. 

Bill Sullivan, executive vice president for advocacy with the American Trucking Associations, a trade group, said that any National Guard members with a commercial driver’s license are likely already driving trucks. 

‘And the freight network is private, so which company’s products would the National Guard haul?’ Sullivan said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal. ‘While we understand why elected officials are looking at all possible authorities to help, deploying the Guard to haul freight isn’t feasible and would only further complicate the current situation.’ 

Meanwhile, haulage companies are offering six-figure salaries and $15,000 sign-on bonuses while struggling to attract 80,000 new drivers who are needed to relieve the nation’s supply crisis.

White House advisers were forced to clarify a comment Biden made that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China, in breach of a longstanding policy that states otherwise.  

‘Yes,’ he responded when asked in a CNN town hall about defending Taiwan. ‘We have a commitment to that.’

Biden’s statement was at odds with the long-held US policy known as ‘strategic ambiguity,’ where Washington helps build Taiwan’s defenses but does not explicitly promise to come to the island’s help in the event of an attack. 

After Thursday’s town hall, a White House spokesperson said Biden was not announcing any change in US policy. 

‘The US defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. 

‘We will uphold our commitment under the act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,’ the spokesperson said. 

Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations ambassador, Zhang Jun, said the country was pursuing ‘peaceful reunification’ with Taiwan and responding to ‘separatist attempts’ by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

‘We are not the troublemaker,’ he said, although Taiwan has repeatedly insisted it has no desire to ‘reunite’ with China, and wishes to retain its status as an independent democracy. 

‘On the contrary, some countries – the US in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction.

‘Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest.’

Biden made a similar pledge to protect Taiwan in August during an interview with ABC, insisting that the United States would always defend key allies, including Taiwan, despite the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the face of the victorious Taliban.

That withdrawal was seized on by critics as evidence that Biden would be soft on defending allies, and saw him accused of potentially emboldening Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vow to re-take Taiwan.  

Biden said the United States made a ‘sacred commitment’ to defend NATO allies in Canada and Europe and it’s the ‘same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan.’

The White House subsequently told reporters that US policy on Taiwan ‘has not changed.’

Asked by an audience member Thursday about China’s rapidly-growing military might, Biden said: ‘Don’t worry about whether… they’re going to be more powerful.’

‘China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world.’

However, Biden expressed concern that rival countries may ‘engage in activities where they may make a serious mistake.’

He referred to his longtime relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and repeated his position that he does not want ‘to start a new Cold War with China.’

But he warned: ‘I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back.’


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