House advances Johnson’s Ocean Shipping Reform Act

Bipartisan legislation supported by U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and hailed as the first major overhaul of federal regulations for the global shipping industry in over 30 years received approval from the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 8.

“We’ve all been impacted by the backlog in the supply chain and shipping delays,” said Rep. Johnson. “Our bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support and I look forward to seeing it pass the Senate.”

The House voted 364-60 to advance the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021, H.R. 4996, which Rep. Johnson cosponsored in August with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) to revise provisions related to ocean shipping policies, support the growth and development of U.S. exports, and promote reciprocal trade in the foreign commerce of the United States, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“China and the foreign flagged ocean carriers aren’t playing fair, and accountability is long overdue. If you want to do business with American ports, you need to play by our basic rules,” Rep. Johnson said. “I am proud of the coalition Congressman Garamendi and I have worked to build over the last year. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act puts American consumers, farmers, ranchers, retailers, truckers, manufacturers, and small businesses first.”

If enacted, H.R. 4996 would establish reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s mission; require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest; and require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees comply with federal regulations or they could face penalties, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Johnson’s office.

Additionally, the bill would shift the burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier, and prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining opportunities for U.S. exports, among other provisions, the summary says.

H.R. 4996, which has received endorsements from more than 360 national, state and local groups and businesses, was received in the Senate on Dec. 9 and referred to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for consideration.