President Biden praised truckers and the administration’s recruitment of more drivers in a speech given outside of the White House on Monday.
President Biden took to the podium on April 4th to praise the country’s influx in new drivers due to the Administration’s Trucking Action Plan and subsequent trucking apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program increased federal funding to expedite the issuing of CDLs, created a joint initiative with the Department of Labor and Transportation to expand recruitment of drivers and advocate for current drivers, and expanded outreach to veterans potentially interested in entering the trucking industry, reported ABC 10 News.
“I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the economy and the record-breaking economic comeback we’re experiencing because of a lot of you sitting out there in those chairs,” Biden said during his Monday speech, addressing truck drivers present at the event.
“[You all are] carrying the nation literally on your back,” he continued. “It’s no surprise so many drivers left their jobs.”
Biden continued by once again claiming that he used to drive a truck – claims that have been previously refuted.
“The workforce is getting older, not that I am, but they are. I used to drive a truck, it’s a long story. Anyway … I thought I was going to get to drive one of these suckers today,” Biden said.
“I remember, I gotta digress for one second, I got a commercial license because my dad used to run an automobile agency, and I used to have to go to a body shop up in Philadelphia from Wilmington,” Biden continued.
“During the truckers strike years later when I was a young Senator, there was a guy who ran steel … and I decided to ride out with him to see what it was like on the strike and I was driving going through Shiloh, Ohio and his handle was Big Ten and I remember all the truck stops were being blockaded at the time and he called and said ‘Big Ten…’ and the only woman truck driver I ever knew I met that day, she said ‘this is Big Mama, no room,’” Biden recounted.
“I swear to God, true story. And he said ‘I’ve got a United States Senator driving my truck,’ [and] she said ‘I got the damn president in mine, so what?’ I’ll never forget that, I was a very powerful guy, anyway, that was the first woman trucker I met.”
Biden: "There was a guy who ran steel … and uh, his handle was big 10 … he called and said 'big 10 wanting to come in,' I forget exactly how he said it, and the only woman truck driver I ever knew I met that day. She said this is big mama. No room. Swear to God. True story." pic.twitter.com/Vth2n2F2eC— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) April 4, 2022
Biden continued: “You all quit, everything comes to a halt. Think about it, I’m not joking. Think about it — come to a literal halt….. During the pandemic, a lot of Americans have been introduced to a term you all know well and Pete used it. Supply chains, a simple term. Supply chain’s a journey, a journey of a product to get to a customer’s doorstep.”
Biden went on to address that the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes funding for roads and bridges “and that means a bright future for American trucking,” he said. “This country will be counting on you more than it ever has. So, you should be able to count on us to keep investing in you and your families. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
In an announcement made on Monday, the White House stated that 2021 was the highest year for trucking employment since 1994, and that there are now 35,000 more trucking employees than before the pandemic, reported The Hill. The issuing of Commercial Driver’s Licenses also more than doubled in January and February 2022 as compared to the same time last year. The White House claims that this increase is due to their streamlining the CDL acquisition process.
“We must do more and do better to recruit more people into the job and to support them so they choose to stay in the job. And, that’s more than saying thank you, it is concrete, specific actions to help our trucking workforce thrive in this career. To make sure that trucking jobs are as high quality, as safe, and as well paid as they ought to be,” said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Biden also praised the trucking apprenticeship program adopted by more than 100 employers in the last 90 days, which streamlines the process of training to earn a CDL.
“What that all adds up to is a strong foundation for the work ahead. A pipeline of hardworking men and women from all backgrounds, highly trained and highly motivated to get behind the wheel. Including a whole lot of veterans thanks to the Veterans Trucking Initiative, known as Task Force Movement led by Patrick Murphy,” Biden said.
“I’d say parenthetically, if you can handle a tank, if you can handle an armored personnel carrier, you sure in hell can handle one of these suckers.”