House passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain
The House on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen shipping supply chains as ongoing infrastructure issues continue to exacerbate inflation and slow the economic recovery.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act was passed in the House in a 364-60 vote.
The bill, introduced in August by California Rep. John Garamendi (D), requires shipping companies to adhere to “minimum service standards that meet the public interest” and blocks them from unreasonably declining cargo.
“This is just one of several bills that we will pass that build on the success of the bipartisan infrastructure law. In there, there are billions of dollars — $17 billion, in fact — for ports and waterways, for commerce to run more smoothly,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said of the bill on Wednesday.
Under the legislation, shipping carriers and port operators are barred from retaliating against a shipper, a shipper’s agent or a motor carrier by threatening to withhold available cargo space.
Improved data collection and reporting practices will also be put in place under the bill, through the creation of a shipping exchange registry. It will also increase Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) funding by 10 percent and directs the FMC to release an annual report on shipping operators and marine terminal operators filing false certifications.
The passage of this bill comes about one month after the House passed the Build Back Better Act, which included $5 billion for identifying and resolving supply chain issues that threaten economic security. Last week, a group of more than 20 House Democrats called for further legislation addressing supply chain issues to be passed.
“As our constituents gather for the holiday season, it is imperative Congress acts to address the needs of the nation through additional action to specifically address the supply chain and resulting higher prices experienced by families across the country,” said the lawmakers, including Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne (Iowa), Susie Lee (Nev.) and Susan Wild (Pa.).
“I’m pleased that House leadership heeded my call for additional legislative action that tackles the wide range of challenges posed by supply chain disruptions,” Axne said Wednesday evening, lambasting foreign shipping companies for “squeezing Iowa farmers.”
The centrist Democratic Blue Dog Coalition celebrated the passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act as a “bipartisan victory.”
“This legislation works to address unfair shipping practices by tackling the worst instances of abuse from bad actors in the shipping industry in an effort to boost our country’s global competitiveness,” Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), a member of the coalition, said in a statement.
“The Senate should pass this critical, broadly-supported legislation without delay to resolve the supply chain struggles impacting Americans,” he added.