As members of the 118th Congress begin the opening weeks of their two-year run, business groups are lobbying those elected officials to pass meaningful legislation to strengthen supply chains that have battered by wild economic conditions.
Three priorities for new legislation should be ocean shipping, long-distance trucking, and domestic manufacturing, according to a bipartisan roundtable discussion hosted this week by the Consumer Brands Association. The event included U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).
“Supply chain should remain at the forefront of legislators’ agenda this Congress,” Consumer Brands’ vice president of supply chain, Tom Madrecki, said in a release. “Consumer Brands is eager to partner with Representatives Johnson and Blunt Rochester to advance new legislative paths forward on supply chain policies that will keep products moving at the speed of the consumer no matter what disruptions may arise.”
According to Rep. Johnson, House Republican leadership has talked about wanting to bring a supply chain package up for a vote in the full House of Representatives in May.
That package could include an effort to improve the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 2022, which was sponsored by a bipartisan group including Johnson and Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) in the House and by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) in the Senate. “We want to do some things with ocean shipping that clean up mistakes and deficiencies in the previous bill, but then also put into place reforms with an eye toward China,” Johnson said.
Several industry groups have since called for tweaks to OSRA, saying that supply chain stakeholders need to share more data with each other in order to meet the law’s goal of clearing cargo delays at backlogged container ports.
The potential legislative package could also include support for another bill that is co-sponsored by Johnson, an effort to bring more drivers into the interstate trucking sector that is known as the SHIP IT Act. That bill also has the support of Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Mike Bost (R-Ill.), and John Rose (R-Tenn.). “We took the very best truck driving ideas and put it into what is called the SHIP IT Act. And that is, I think, tailor made to be able to build a big bipartisan consensus, not just in the House, but also the Senate,” Johnson said.
Finally, Rep. Blunt Rochester discussed her own bipartisan package of bills that would tackle supply chain issues and support domestic manufacturing of critical goods. Blunt Rochester said she recently worked with fellow House Energy and Commerce Committee members to build bipartisan momentum for those ideas. “I talked about the fact that we would be introducing this package of bills, and that I am hopeful and excited to work with Republicans on doing something. Because the option of not doing something is not there. We must do something,” she said.