California reps target shipping backlog at ports with bipartisan legislation
California Reps. Josh Harder (D) and Michelle Steel (R) introduced new legislation on Thursday to address the port backlog in their state, which has contributed to the ongoing supply chain issues in the U.S.
The Supply Chain Taskforce Act would direct the commandant of the Coast Guard to create an interagency task force aimed at addressing the backlog at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and along the coasts of southern California.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz, would be made chair of the task force, which would include at least one member from multiple government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the State Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Under the bill, the chair of the task force would also be permitted to appoint representatives from Orange County, Calif., the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the California state government.
The duties assigned to the task force would include quantifying the impact and cost of the backlogs at the California ports; evaluate the response that federal agencies have made to the backlogs; and investigate the cause of the massive oil spill that occurred off the coast of Orange County in October.
“Our families are facing rising prices at the grocery store while our farmers are struggling to get their products to market and we know exactly why — the crisis at our ports,” Harder said in a statement. “Democrats and Republicans agree that we need to get prices under control and let our folks get back to shipping their products around the globe. This bill puts politics aside so we can actually address this crisis.”
Steel added that “without leadership we will have another crisis on our hands, and it’s time for action.”
The congestion at the California ports has prompted officials on all levels to act. The Biden administration announced last month that the ports would be moving to 24-hour operations.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Oct. 20 directing state agencies to identify state-owned properties that could help alleviate the storage needs at the ports. The order also sought to identify freight routes that could be exempted from vehicle weight limits in order to allow more goods to be transported.
Officials at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced last week that they would be fining shipping companies for vessels that stay in the ports for too long, with the fees derived from this action invested into programs designed to enhance efficiency.
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