PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Supply chain issues remain front and center as consumers find fewer products on the shelves.
In an exclusive interview seen only on KDKA, political editor Jon Delano asked Vice President Kamala Harris what the government is doing about it.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Reports 3-Day Total Of 989 New Cases, 11 More Deaths
Empty shelves for consumers and missing parts for local manufacturers — it all adds up to inconvenience and now an inflation rate of 5.4 percent in September.
Delano: What can you and the administration do to alleviate these problems in western Pennsylvania and throughout the nation?
Harris: It’s a big issue for western Pennsylvania, throughout the nation, and actually a global issue. The supply chain issue also actually predated the pandemic but it’s been highlighted during the pandemic.”
WATCH: Full Interview With VP Harris
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said the delays in unloading ships with products at America’s ports require a 24/7 approach, nonstop unloading of ships.
Delano: Is that going to be sufficient to solve the problem in the short term?
Harris: One of the short-term solutions is the 24/7 approach. Let’s open up our ports for a longer period of time than we traditionally have them open, so we can move those products. But listen, part of it is also saying, let’s take care of workers.
“This also needs to be about paying workings their value, paying the wages that reflect the value of their work,” added Harris.
There is a shortage of both longshoremen to unload ships and truckers to transport products across the nation, and Vice President Harris thinks higher pay might help.
The other problem is that western Pennsylvania manufacturing companies and others lack component parts made overseas.
So Jon Delano posed this to the Vice President, who recently met with leaders in Southeast Asia.
Delano: A long-term solution is to build more in America. We shouldn’t buy a thing from China or Southeast Asia if we can make it here at home.
Vice President: You are exactly right, and that was the point of my trip, a big part of my trip, what we do to decrease our reliance on external sources.
WATCH: Jon Delano Reports
Buy American provisions in government spending help but ending our reliance on foreign countries takes time.
The other big issue facing the Biden administration these days is getting Congress to approve the Build Back Better plan. As Congress debates what should be in the final version of the plan, many are confused about what exactly is in the bill.
Delano: What do you think is the most important provision in Build Back Better for folks here in western Pennsylvania?
Harris: The most important provision in Build Back Better and the Build Back Better agenda is working families. Everything about the bill is designed to support working families.
The vice president points to child care and pre-K for all, extending monthly child tax credit payments that expire soon and helping families take care of their older loved ones.
“It’s saying, hey, in Pennsylvania, less than 15 percent of the people in Pennsylvania have high-speed internet. Let’s invest in our infrastructure, making sure that every family has affordable access to high-speed internet because that’s the way our kids do homework.
“It’s the way that folks who live in remote areas see their doctor through telemedicine,” Harris said.
Harris, who visited Pittsburgh earlier this summer, said infrastructure is on her mind when she thinks of this city.
“Given that right now we are trying to pass our infrastructure bill, I would say that I think of the city of bridges. Pittsburgh has over 440 bridges, and a lot of them could use some upgrading,” she said.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill is already set. It’s the $3.3 trillion human infrastructure bill — focused on families, children, students, and seniors and also includes some measures to address climate change — that will have to be scaled back to nearly $2 trillion to pass Congress.
Delano: What kinds of programs do you think get lost in the compromise?
Harris: It’s like asking you to pick your favorite child, right. They are all important.
“When we think about the crisis of the pandemic and what it highlighted in terms of the failures and shortcomings of our system in terms of supporting working families, we know that all these things are on the table,” Harris said.
“We’re going to be fighting for all them, but you’re watching sausage get made. It’s a negotiation process,” she added.MORE NEWS: Fayette County Priest Andrew Kawecki Pleads No Contest To Charges Of Repeatedly Sexually Assaulting Altar Boy
Vice President Harris said she’s convinced that when the negotiation is concluded, the result will be good for American families. But no word yet on what that will look like.