Recent Op-Eds

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, 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.

While it’s true that supply chain issues and the reopening of economies after COVID shutdowns contributed somewhat to inflationary pressures, a big reason for our current inflation crisis is too much Washington spending. The definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods and services. That’s exactly the situation Democrats helped create with their so-called American Rescue Plan. They flooded the economy with unnecessary government money, and the economy overheated as a result.

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this 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. The Senate recently passed my bipartisan shipping legislation with the support from all 100 senators, which is not an easy accomplishment these days.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which I introduced with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would help ease supply chain pressures, particularly at our nation’s ports. 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. 

When I’m traveling throughout the state, I get a lot of questions about the supply chain bottlenecks that are driving up prices and hitting South Dakota’s agriculture industry particularly hard. I recently visited the AGP soybean plant in Aberdeen, which, like many ag exporters in the state, has been dealing with increased costs to ship goods overseas and the effects of shipping container delays and cancelations. South Dakota businesses are also struggling to meet the demands of their customers – especially small businesses, which have fewer resources to fight supply chain problems.

My legislation responds to unfair ocean carrier practices – whether that involves refusing to carry certain cargo or discriminating against certain commodities for export, like agricultural products. It would help 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 the 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’m glad my colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognized the need for this important legislation, and I look forward to working with the House, including Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), to see this across the finish line.