Problem Solvers Caucus Backs Bipartisan Legislation to Address Global Shipping Crisis

November 9, 2021
Press Release
Bill Supports U.S. Exports, Helps Ease Supply Chain Issues, & Tackles Trade Imbalance


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation that supports American exports by establishing reciprocal trade opportunities to help reduce the United States’ longstanding trade imbalance with China. This bill addresses unfair business practices of foreign-flagged ocean carriers that have intensified supply chain issues, hurting American businesses and consumers. 

U.S. producers have seen shipping costs increasing up to 500%, driving higher prices for consumer goods and creating logjams in our supply chains at ports. This bill would be the first major update of federal regulations for the global ocean shipping industry since 1998.  These changes will bolster support for U.S. companies, their workers, and the consumers who rely on the shipping industry to move goods expeditiously. 

Problem Solvers, Representatives Dusty Johnson (SD- At-large) and Jim Costa (CA-16) brought the bill for endorsement, which garnered the support of more than 75 percent of the Caucus.

“American families, consumers, and small businesses should not be suffering from the supply chain shortages and rising prices that are further exacerbated by bottlenecks at our ports,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01). “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is an immediate, bipartisan response that will ensure that foreign-flagged carriers are playing by the rules and will help to alleviate the inflationary pressures that we are seeing play out across the economy now.”

“We are currently facing a shipping and supply chain crisis. These supply chain issues, along with increasing costs and delays, are badly impacting our small businesses, families, and local economies, especially with the holiday season around the corner,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05). “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the average cost of shipping a container increase from $2,000 to an exorbitant $20,000. With these record-high costs to shipping, I’m proud to co-sponsor the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which will alleviate pressure at our nation’s ports, support American businesses, and bring costs down, which will provide crucial relief to hardworking families and small businesses in North Jersey and nationwide.”

“Foreign ocean carriers aren’t playing fair, and American producers are paying the price,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD- At-Large). “It’s time for updated rules of the road. That’s what our bill does." 

“The pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of our global supply chain, delaying everything from food to retail to healthcare supply shipments,” said Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16). ”This bipartisan legislation will update federal regulations, support American exports, and reduce trade imbalances. Congress must act quickly to keep our supply chain up and running.”  

"Backlogged ships at the San Pedro Port Complex in Southern California continue to cause supply chain shortages that are raising prices for workers, families, and small businesses and hurting U.S. manufacturers and others exporting goods overseas. We must take concrete steps to update our shipping laws,” said Rep. Young Kim (CA-39). “I’m proud to co-sponsor the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act and am glad the Problem Solvers Caucus has come together to promote fair, reciprocal trade practices to address our supply chain backlog and support small businesses and manufacturers.”  

“I commend Representative Costa and Representative Johnson for their work to address supply chain issues,” said Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24).  “As the chair of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, this is an issue I have been actively working on and I look forward to continuing my work with them to help advance legislation that addresses an issue that is impacting every American, including the agriculture sector in my district on the Central Coast of California.“

“On top of this year’s major supply chain disruptions, American businesses face challenges in obtaining fair and reliable ocean transport. Foreign ocean carriers continue to discriminate against U.S. export cargo through unfair detention and demurrage charges, much to Asia’s advantage. This legislation will help to level the playing field for American exporters and provide timely reform for the ocean shipping industry,” said Rep. Tom Rice (SC-07). 

“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is good, bipartisan legislation that will really go a long way to alleviate the numerous supply chain bottlenecks we’re seeing at ports from coast to coast. It’s another tool in the toolbox that needs to be used, for sure,” said Rep. Fred Upton (MI-06). “American farmers and businesses continue to face difficulties in securing fair and reliable ocean transportation for their goods due to a real imbalance in the availability and efficiency of ocean streamliners. This bipartisan legislation will ensure that American goods have full and equal access to foreign markets and that any fees currently being applied to American truckers and ports for delays caused by ocean carriers themselves are rightfully waived.” 

“As we continue to see from the ongoing supply chain crisis facing our nation, it is imperative that Congress finally address longstanding logistical issues around shipping and foreign trade,” said Rep. David Valadao (CA-21). “That is why I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the “Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021,” which will support American producers and exporters who are being impacted the most by the current logistical issues throughout California. This bill will establish fair rules for global trading partners and ensure our trade with foreign nations is indeed reciprocal.” 

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 would:

  • Establish reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) mission.
  • Require ocean carriers to follow minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry.
  • Require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees —known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges—comply with federal regulations or face penalties.
  • Shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier or marine terminal operator.
  • Prohibit ocean carriers from declining opportunities for U.S. exports unreasonably.
  • Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States.
  • Authorizes the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate.

The full text of the legislation is available here