Houlahan Sends Cost-Cutting Ocean Shipping Reform to President’s Desk

HoulahanRep. Houlahan (3rd from R) at the Philly Shipyard in 2021 during a Members-only walking tour to discuss workforce needs and manufacturing. (Submitted Image)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Monday night, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) voted for the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act to address supply chain disruptions, shipping delays, and rising costs fueling inflation for Pennsylvanians and all Americans. This bill bolsters the enforcement capabilities of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) by establishing a shipping exchange registry through the FMC, authorizing an independent process for ships blocking port access or returning empty cargo containers, and providing safeguards to combat retaliation and deter unfair business practices.

“Pennsylvanians are hurting from the rising cost of goods, and we must use every tool in our toolbox to deliver relief for working families,” said Houlahan. “Inflation and gas prices are impacting every major economy around the world, but Americans are being hit particularly hard by exploitative business practices and ocean carriers unreasonably refusing to transport American cargo—it must end.”

Houlahan added: “I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, in the Senate and the House, for working together to put this important piece of legislation in front of President Biden who is eager to sign it into law. At a time when too many Americans find themselves questioning our ability to work together, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is a testament to Congress’ commitment to passing substantial legislation to help the American people.”

Shortly after the House passed the bill, President Biden shared his support:

“Lowering prices for Americans is my top priority, and I applaud the Congress for passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act on a bipartisan basis, which will help lower costs for American retailers, farmers and consumers,” said President Biden.

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“…In my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to address ocean carriers’ high prices and unfair practices because rising ocean shipping costs are a major contributing factor to increased costs for American families. During the pandemic, ocean carriers increased their prices by as much as 1,000%. And, too often, these ocean carriers are refusing to take American exports back to Asia, leaving with empty containers instead. That’s costing farmers and ranchers—and our economy—a lot of money.”

“This bill will make progress reducing costs for families and ensuring fair treatment for American businesses—including farmers and ranchers. I look forward to signing it into law.”

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will help level the playing field by empowering the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to strengthen oversight of the shipping market and lower costs for consumers.  This legislation will boost funding for the FMC and implement several key measures:

  • Combating exorbitant shipping costs by strengthening FMC enforcement action against exploitative business practices.
  • Ensuring fairness in shipping by improving transparency and prohibiting ocean carriers from unreasonably refusing to transport American cargo.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act has been endorsed by a broad coalition of trade groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, American Association of Exporters and Importers, National Retail Federation, Association of Food Industries and Consumer Technology Association.

The bill passed 369-42.

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