Problem Solvers Take On Supply Chain Delays

The holiday shopping season has begun, but many hot gift items are stuck in transit and may not make it to the shelves.

What CNN calls “a perfect storm of conditions — a global surge of demand for consumer products throughout the pandemic, Covid-related shutdowns in Chinese manufacturing centers and shipping ports, and US labor shortages in trucking and other logistics-related industries — has resulted in major backlogs” at U.S. ports, “triggering fears of empty shelves and unfulfillable e-commerce orders.”

On Tuesday, the White House announced a new plan — much of it taking advantage of funds allocated in the bipartisan infrastructure bill — to address the crisis. President Biden will highlight shipping when he visits the Port of Baltimore today.

The House Problem Solvers Caucus is also weighing in, officially endorsing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing the trade imbalance with China and supporting U.S. exports. It would be the first major update of federal regulations for the global ocean shipping industry in more than two decades.

Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), who along with Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) brought the bill to the Caucus for support, said, “Foreign ocean carriers aren’t playing fair, and American producers are paying the price. It’s time for updated rules of the road.”

Caucus Co-chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) noted that “throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the average cost of shipping a container increase from $2,000 to an exorbitant $20,000,” while Co-chair Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) called the bill “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.”

The supply chain crisis is a threat to a recovering economy, and a threat to a happy holiday season. It will take the two parties working together to get it resolved.

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