Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the House overwhelmingly supporting the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which is now headed to President Biden’s desk for signature. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Last night, finally, the House overwhelmingly approved the Senate’s Ocean Shipping Reform Act, the most significant maritime reform law passed by Congress in years. The inflation-fighting shipping bill now goes to the President’s desk for signature, finally providing relief to American exporters and consumers alike.
Shipping reform is exactly the kind of bill that can make a difference to the American people: it fights inflation, it relieves our supply chains, and it helps small businesses and consumers alike.
Not too much has been written about this bill because, sadly, the way our world and media work is that if there's not a big conflict, they don't write much about it.
But this shipping bill is very important. If high prices are our number one nemesis, one of the main reasons is the ships piled up at our ports. We've all seen the pictures outside the ports of L.A and Seattle and Savannah and Norfolk, and New York-New Jersey. This is causing people to pay more. It's no one's fault; it was COVID related. And now there's a big rush to make up for the delays that COVID caused. But we have to do something about it, and we have.
There are many frustrating reasons why prices are going up right now, but one of the main ones is the abuses from ocean carriers. Over the course of the pandemic – listen to this, folks –over the course of the pandemic, unfair shipping practices led to carriers to increase prices by as much as 1000%. A 1000% increase in prices in shipping! And who is paying that? The average family in America and the average exporting business.
Even worse, foreign carriers oftentimes refuse to even transport US goods overseas, and by now we’re seeing the results: backlogs at the ports in LA and Seattle, and Georgia, and New York and New Jersey, and other major hubs.
This is not just a problem for the coasts: when backlog occurs at the ports in Los Angeles, it hurts farmers in Minnesota or Wisconsin. It hurts truckers and tech companies and manufacturers and mom and pop shops all over the country. And most of all, it hurts American consumers.
Our shipping reform bill will fix this by making it harder for ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse American goods at our ports, while strengthening the Federal Maritime Commission’s powers to stop abusive practices by foreign carriers.
I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and my House colleagues who worked to pass this bill. And special thanks goes to Senators Klobuchar and Thune for authoring this legislation, as well as Chairwoman Cantwell who used her legislative skills – which are indeed very fine – and she shepherded this bill through this chamber.
Because of the hard work of these folks, shipping reform will now become law and American consumers will soon feel the benefit.