House Passes Bill to Restructure Shipping Supply Chains

The House of Representatives passed the “Ocean Shipping Reform Act” on Wednesday, 364-60, to address the shipping supply chain crisis that hit U.S. ports several months ago, according to The Hill.

Introduced in August by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., the bill requires shipping companies to adhere to “minimum service standards that meet the public interest.”

The legislation bars shipping carriers and port operators from retaliating against a shipper, a shipper’s agent, or a motor carrier by threatening to withhold cargo space.

“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.

The bill increases Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) funding by 10% and directs the FMC to release an annual report on shipping operators and marine terminal operators filing false certifications. It also creates a new shipping exchange registry to better relay carrier data.

“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,” said Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, on Wednesday.

For months, U.S. exporters have been struggling as Chinese exporters pay vessel-operating common carriers to return containers empty rather than loading them at U.S. ports with American goods, Agri-Pulse reported on Wednesday.

The moderate Democratic Blue Dog Coalition touted the legislation’s success 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 Blue Dog member, said in a statement.

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