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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out the Biden administration for focusing on pet projects instead of addressing the country’s rampant supply chain crisis. Thune noted that some ocean carriers are refusing to transport certain goods, such as South Dakota agricultural products, and he discussed his recent legislation that would address the problem and create a more level playing field for producers.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, one of the big drivers of our inflation crisis was Democrats’ decision to flood the economy with unnecessary government money last March with their $1.9 trillion spending bill.
“Another contributor to the problem has been supply chain bottlenecks.
“Americans are getting pretty used to long delays in receiving the goods they’ve ordered.
“To big holes on grocery store shelves.
“To being unable to rely on a store to keep a product in stock consistently.
“Since the start of the pandemic, keeping goods in stock has been a challenge.
“But as with the larger inflation crisis, the White House has seemed largely uninterested in addressing the problem.
‘”The tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed,’ the White House press secretary joked in October – a typically tone-deaf comment from an administration often oblivious to the difficulties facing ordinary Americans.
“In fact, supply chain issues are not a minor inconvenience.
“They’re a real problem.
“It’s not easy for an already overstretched mom or dad to have to run around town trying to find essential items – items that they could previously rely on one store to have in stock.
“Businesses are struggling to maintain their profit margins and meet the demands of their customers – particularly small businesses, which have fewer resources to work around supply chain problems.
“And, of course, supply chain problems are helping to fuel the price hikes Americans have been facing – on everything from food and clothing to furniture to used cars and trucks.
“These are facts that seem lost on the administration, which has largely ignored supply chain issues and the inflation crisis in favor of focusing on its pet projects – a massive tax-and-spending spree and election legislation that it thinks will boost Democrat chances in the fall.
“On top of this, the administration has taken more than one action that is making – or seems likely to make – our supply chain problems worse.
“Earlier this week, for example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented its Entry-Level Driver Training rule, which substantially expands training requirements for drivers seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
“The new rule is likely to make it significantly more challenging for trucking companies to train new drivers, particularly for smaller trucking companies, which may struggle to afford the enhanced training costs.
“Mr. President, the trucking industry has been hit hard by the supply chain crisis, with drivers working longer hours with fewer resources to keep goods moving across the country.
“This makes it a very bad time to impose new burdens on truckers and tie up trucking companies with additional red tape.
“The administration should have delayed the implementation of this rule until the worst of the supply chain crisis eases.
“Unfortunately, the administration decided to push ahead anyway, and now truck drivers and trucking companies will face additional challenges – which will likely exacerbate supply chain problems.
“The Canada-U.S. cross-border truck driver vaccine mandate is another administration action that has created new pressures on a trucking industry already stretched thin thanks to the supply chain crisis.
“While I’m a strong supporter of vaccines, mandating vaccines for cross-border truck drivers has only served to worsen supply chain bottlenecks.
“You just need to look at the current situation in Canada to see evidence of that.
“Truck drivers do not pose a high risk of COVID transmission, since they spend most of their workday alone, and this mandate’s main legacy looks likely to be increasing the supply chain problems we’re facing.
“Then of course there’s the administration’s hostile attitude toward conventional energy production.
“The administration might not like it, but the fact of the matter is that our economy will continue to rely on conventional energy, like gasoline, for a while yet.
“And discouraging conventional energy production, as the administration has done, is doing nothing but worsening our inflation and supply chain crisis and driving up energy bills for American families.
“Energy prices have a substantial effect on prices in the store, and on the availability of goods.
“The higher energy prices are, the more expensive it will be to produce and transport goods.
“And the more it costs to produce and transport goods, the higher the final price of the goods is likely to be.
“The administration’s hostility to traditional energy production has helped drive energy prices up, which is aggravating our supply chain and inflation crises.
“Mr. President, instead of imposing unhelpful new regulations, it would be nice to see the administration turn its focus to meaningful measures to address the supply chain crisis, like those in the bipartisan legislation I introduced last week with Senator Amy Klobuchar.
“For some time now, I’ve heard reports of ocean carriers refusing to transport certain goods – often American agricultural products – in favor of more lucrative cargoes.
“Our legislation is designed to address this problem and create a more level playing field for American producers.
“Our bill gives the Federal Maritime Commission greater authority to respond to discriminatory ocean carrier practices, and it provides the FMC with tools to more quickly resolve detention and demurrage disputes.
“This legislation will bring greater efficiency and transparency to a process that leaves many shippers frustrated, especially small businesses, and bring long-term positive changes to the maritime supply chain, which I hope will benefit exporters, importers, and consumers alike.
“These are the kinds of measures the White House should be focusing on – measures that open up the supply chain instead of weighing it down with government mandates and regulations.
“Mr. President, given the administration’s general lack of concern with the supply chain and inflation crises facing the American people, I don’t have a lot of hope that the White House is going to do much to address either of these problems.
“But I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress – from both parties whenever possible – to advance measures that will ease our supply chain problems and help us get back to a situation where goods move smoothly around our country, and around the world.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”