U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) today issued the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives passed their Ocean Shipping Reform Act (S. 3580). The bipartisan, bicameral legislation, which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate in March, would strengthen the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) by providing it with new tools to help level the playing field for American exporters and counteract anticompetitive behavior. The bill would also help FMC more efficiently resolve disputes between ocean carriers and shippers, while also taking actions at the U.S. Department of Transportation to alleviate strain across the supply chain. Their bill now heads to the president’s desk, where it’s expected to be signed into law.
“Today’s vote proves that Congress can still do big things in a bipartisan way,” said Thune. “Now that we’ve cleared this hurdle, I’m glad that my Ocean Shipping Reform Act will soon be the law of the land. The common-sense improvements made by this bill willprovide the FMC with the tools necessary to address unreasonable practices by ocean carriers and hold them accountable for any bad-faith efforts that disenfranchise American producers, including those throughout South Dakota, who feed the world. Especially as Americans continue to grapple with record-high inflation, this legislation would also benefit consumers by promoting the efficiency of the supply chain.”
“Foreign flagged ocean carriers are playing games with American agriculture exports and our bill puts an end to it,” said Johnson. “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is the strongest fix to our maritime laws in a generation. Americans are facing record inflation, our bill isn’t a silver bullet, but help is on the way. I am proud to have worked on this issue for the last year with Congressman Garamendi, and I am grateful that the House and Senate came to an agreement on these important reforms to our nation’s shipping laws.”
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will:
- Prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably refusing cargo space accommodations for U.S. exports and from discriminating against U.S. exporters;
- Promote transparency by requiring ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States;
- Authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate; and
- Establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges to improve the negotiation of service contracts.
The FMC is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system for the benefit of U.S. exporters, importers, and consumers. The FMC is primarily responsible for ensuring that ocean carriers and marine terminal operators engage in fair and competitive practices with respect to the movement of goods, while upholding the integrity of service contracts to guard against detrimental effects to shipping. Additionally, the FMC monitors rates, charges, and rules of government-owned or controlled carriers to ensure they are just and reasonable, which promotes fluidity and competition in U.S. international trade.