The American people are looking for solutions to supply chain congestion resulting from the impacts of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, S.3580, which was marked up today by the Senate Commerce Committee, addresses none of the root causes of the U.S. landside congestion.
Americans continue to import goods at record levels—so much so that the U.S. ports and landside logistics workforce is unable to process all the cargo. Ocean carriers have deployed every vessel and every container available, and are moving more goods than at any point in history, but the U.S. landside logjams are keeping vessels stuck outside U.S. ports. This import congestion is also consuming the capacity and space needed to ensure the uninterrupted flow of U.S. exports.
While the Senate is taking a more deliberative approach that the House’s flawed process in passing the Ocean Reform Act of 2021, H.R.4996, neither chamber’s version of the bill does anything to fix the landside logistics breakdowns that are at the heart of America’s supply chain problems. In fact, the House bill would make existing congestion worse. Comparatively, the Senate bill – despite carrying some of the same risks of unintended negative consequences – provides regulators enough authority to get the final rules right.
Instead of passing legislation that would do nothing to address the nation’s supply chain congestion, Congress should seek real solutions that take a comprehensive, forward-looking view. That means continued investment in port infrastructure and promoting communication, innovation, and collaboration across sectors to further strengthen the intermodal transportation system that has supported the U.S. economy throughout the pandemic. The World Shipping Council will continue to partner with Congress and other stakeholders on these worthwhile efforts.