Increased shipping fees concern Moran, Capito, Hoeven and GOP colleagues

U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and John Hoeven (R-ND) joined a dozen other Republicans to urge the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to reevaluate the new fees being imposed for shipping container carriers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The increased shipping costs, known as Container Excess Dwell Fees, were imposed starting on Nov. 22 and the lawmakers are concerned that they will be passed on to American consumers.

“These fees, just like tariffs, ultimately will be passed onto the American consumer in the form of higher prices for goods at a time when the prices are already at record highs,” the senators wrote in a Nov. 19 letter sent to Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Daniel Maffei.

Among the senators who also signed the letter are U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Steve Daines (R-MT).

According to their letter, the ports of LA and Long Beach are now charging ocean carriers daily dwell fees of $100 per container, increasing in $100 increments every day until the container leaves the terminal. For containers scheduled to move by truck, fees will be incurred by containers that sit for longer than nine days. For containers moving by rail, shipping lines will be charged if the container sits in port for longer than six days, they wrote.

“With this fee structure in place, the costs may increase astronomically,” wrote the senators. 

And while sympathetic to the current strain placed on all facets of the global supply chain, the lawmakers wrote that it is nonetheless misguided “to levy an exorbitant fee” as ports across the United States are experiencing unprecedented congestion and record container volumes.

“These hyper-demurrage fees are not the solution,” they wrote. “If left in place, they will have significant consequences for importers and American consumers.”

The lawmakers called on the FMC to immediately review the fees against the statutory and regulatory requirements within the commission’s jurisdiction and to review the ocean carriers’ plan for passing through the fees to shippers.

“The commission’s mission is to protect American shippers from the unfair practices of ocean carriers, freight consolidators, and port operators,” wrote the senators. “Now, in the midst of these already challenging times, oversight is needed more than ever.”