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Sen. Rick Scott holds roundtable meeting with business leaders at Port of Palm Beach

Event addresses country's supply chain problems
Sen. Rick Scott holds a roundtable discussion at the Port of Palm Beach on Nov. 8, 2021
Posted at 4:08 PM, Nov 07, 2021

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, was at the Port of Palm Beach on Monday to discuss the country's ongoing supply chain problems with local business leaders.

The senator held a roundtable discussion where he heard from members of the community about the problems they are currently experiencing.

"We have an unbelievable opportunity with our ports," Scott said. "Less than half of the international cargo that we use in our state comes in through a Florida port."

RELATED: Florida ports limited in helping backed-up supply chains

Sen. Rick Scott holds roundtable discussion at Port of Palm Beach

In Sunday's announcement for the event, Scott took a jab at President Joe Biden, calling his policies "disastrous" and "socialist."

"We clearly have supply chain problems in this country. On top of that, we've got workforce issues. ... We have a lot of job openings. We have still over 10 million job openings," Scott said.

The senator was critical of the federal government's policies that he said aren't encouraging people to work.

"You would never do this to your children. You would never say, 'Hey, I'm going to support you as long as you don't work,'" the senator said. "And that's what our government is doing to our kids and our grandkids."

Port of Palm Beach
Officials say the Port of Palm Beach has not been disrupted by the supply chain problems.

Scott also criticized the Biden administration's recent announcement that companies with 100 or more employees will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or get tested for the virus weekly.

"Where did government get the ... think this was a good idea?" Scott asked. "That we would tell people you have to get a vaccine or you lose your job."

The senator said he is working on a bill with U.S. Rep. Carlos Antonio Giménez, R-Miami, called the "Supply Chain Emergency Response Act."

He said the bill would redirect $125 million of unspent CARES Act dollars to subsidize the cost to move cargo from the west coast of the U.S. through the Panama Canal to east coast ports.

The legislation would also allow governors to use unspent CARES Act money to help offset port fees and other related state-level expenses.

Local business leaders shared their frustrations.

"We're happy to break even. That's where we're at," said Cleve Mash, a restaurant owner in Palm Beach County.

Cleve Mash, restaurant owners speaks about worker shortages during a discussion with Sen. Rick Scott, Nov. 8, 2021
Restaurant owner Cleve Mash (left) shares his thoughts on worker shortages during the roundtable discussion.

RELATED: Need for truck drivers increases as shortage impacts supply chain

Representatives at the Port of Palm Beach said there have been no disruptions, and 80 percent of the goods moving through the port are exported, mostly to the Caribbean.

"We do not get that many imports that consumers are desperately needing," said Manny Almira, president of the Port of Palm Beach.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel defends President Joe Biden's actions to resolve the supply chain problems.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said the supply chain issues were primarily caused by COVID-19. She said Biden has taken responsible steps to help get more goods moving.

"They opened the ports in L.A. 24 hours. The president has worked with the unions with carriers like UPS, for example," Frankel said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last month in Jacksonville that Florida's ports are open and ready to help alleviate the country's supply chain issues.

The global supply chain problem has caused American companies to scramble to find parts and goods to build their products.

Import prices have surged due to demand outweighing supply.