WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) applauded the passage of his bill, S. 1298, the Ports Performance Act, by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Thune’s bill is intended to provide currently non-existent key metrics on port operations to help provide earlier warning of disruptions to national commerce and follows the nine-month labor dispute at 29 West Coast container ports.
“Businesses and agriculture producers in South Dakota rely on dependable port operations to ensure our goods are efficiently shipped to markets around the globe,” said Thune. “This bill creates a right for the public to know, and an opportunity for government officials to act, if future labor strife or any other development threatens efficient operation of maritime commerce.”
“The damage inflicted on our economy because of port labor strife needed a response to help prevent a reoccurrence. Today, the committee resisted arguments against transparency and acted on that need.”
S. 1298 creates a new level of transparency and accountability for ports, many of which are government owned, by requiring the following common sense measures:
- The director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to establish a port performance statistics program and report annually to Congress on the performance and capacity of the nation’s key ports.
- U.S. port authorities that are subject to federal regulation or that receive federal assistance to report annually to BTS.
- The Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Commerce, to report to Congress on a port’s performance before and after the expiration of maritime labor agreements to help indicate whether labor discussions have impacted operations, the estimated economic impact of such disputes and roughly how long it will take for shipments to return to normal.
S. 1298 may next be considered as part of the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization pending before Congress.
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) joined Thune as original cosponsors in introducing S. 1298.
Thune is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.