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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed his Ocean Shipping Reform Act, legislation he introduced with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that would help ease pressures in the supply chain by improving its fluidity. Thune noted that he is encouraged by the Senate Commerce Committee’s strong, bipartisan support, and he hopes the bill will swiftly pass the Senate.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, American families are currently struggling with the worst inflation in 40 years.
“Food prices. Gas prices. Used car prices.
“Everywhere Americans look, they’re paying more.
“Wages increased on average last year, Mr. President, but inflation outstripped wage growth, which means that instead of a wage increase, a lot of Americans got a de facto pay cut.
“And there’s no clear end in sight.
“It’s no wonder that nearly two-thirds of the American people disapprove of President Biden’s handling of the economy.
“They’re right to do so.
“Because Democrats, Mr. President, bear a substantial part of the responsibility for this inflation crisis.
“While it’s true that supply chain issues and the reopening of economies after COVID shutdowns contributed somewhat to inflationary pressures, a big part of the reason for our current inflation crisis is Democrats’ decision to pass the American Rescue Plan last March.
“Mr. President, the definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods and services.
“And that’s exactly the situation Democrats helped create with their so-called American Rescue Plan.
“Democrats took control mere weeks after Congress had passed a fifth bipartisan COVID relief bill, totaling more than $900 billion and meeting essentially all current pressing COVID needs.
“And it was abundantly clear that we were not in immediate need of trillions more in government spending.
“But that didn’t stop Democrats.
“Now that they were in charge, they were eager to take advantage of the COVID crisis to begin implementing their big-government vision.
“And so in the name of ‘COVID relief,’ they pushed through a massive, partisan, $1.9 trillion piece of legislation filled with unnecessary spending and handouts to Democrat interest groups.
“And the outcome was entirely predictable.
“Democrats flooded the economy with unnecessary government money, and the economy overheated as a result.
“Mr. President, unfortunately there is no going back and undoing the American Rescue Plan Act.
“(Although, given the inflation crisis it helped create, I wonder if some Democrats wish they could go back and undo it.)
“There is no easy fix for Democrats’ self-inflicted inflation crisis.
“But there are things we can do to at least lessen its effects, starting with legislation to help ease supply-chain woes.
“Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee reported my bipartisan shipping legislation out of committee by voice vote.
“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which I introduced with Senator Klobuchar, would help ease supply chain pressures by improving the fluidity of the supply chain.
“For some time now I’ve been hearing reports of ocean carriers refusing to transport certain goods – often American agricultural products.
“This would be a difficult situation at any time, as export markets around the world are critically important to American producers.
“But it is particularly painful at a time when inflation is soaring and the supply chain is under significant strain.
“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is designed to address these kinds of shipping problems and create a more level playing field for American producers.
“Our legislation would give the Federal Maritime Commission increased authority to respond to unfair ocean carrier practices – whether that involves a refusal to carry certain cargo, like agricultural commodities, or discriminating against certain commodities for export.
“Our bill would also provide the FMC with tools to more quickly resolve detention and demurrage disputes, which would bring greater efficiency and transparency to a process that leaves many shippers frustrated, especially agriculture producers and other small businesses.
“And our legislation would take steps to improve the movement of goods at our nation’s ports, which would help ease supply chain bottlenecks and improve the speed at which goods reach consumers.
“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would bring long-term positive changes to the maritime supply chain, which I hope would benefit exporters, importers, and consumers alike.
“I was very pleased that our legislation received strong bipartisan support in the Commerce Committee, and I hope it can swiftly pass the Senate.
“This is the kind of bill we should be working on if we want to help alleviate our inflation situation and improve the economy.
“I was dismayed to see that the president’s budget, which was released this week, would double down on the kind of excessive government spending that helped get us into this inflation crisis in the first place.
“After a year of progressively worsening inflation, you would think Democrats would have learned their lesson.
“But clearly the president is still intent on more reckless spending, coupled with job-killing tax hikes.
“And not just any tax hikes.
“According to Bloomberg, the president’s budget would add up to the largest tax hike in American history in dollar terms.
“I hope my Democrat colleagues here in Congress will decide to skip the president’s irresponsible tax-and-spending proposals and focus on measures that would actually help alleviate this inflation crisis – not make it worse.
“While there is no easy fix for our inflation situation, we can start to make things better for Americans with bipartisan legislation like the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.
“And I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support the legislation Senator Klobuchar and I have produced.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”