To Strengthen Freight Connectivity, DOT Goes With the FLOW
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At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic just a couple of years ago, the nation’s supply chains experienced myriad degrees of disruptions.
Americans experienced major shortages of essential home supplies, and the scarcity captivated the public’s attention. Lessons learned about the supply chain were key to the advancement of 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law focuses heavily on boosting supply chain connectivity.
Fast-forward to this fall when shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, President Joe Biden and his administration again acknowledged the potential for vulnerabilities to domestic freight corridors.
That was the president’s main argument for recently promoting freight efficiency efforts. Already a priority throughout the year, freight connectivity is especially important during the busy holiday shopping season.
On Nov. 27, the Biden administration announced the launch of the Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy. The office is tasked with overseeing the maintenance of freight networks and supply chains. Central to the office’s objective will be the advancement of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Freight Logistics Optimization Works, or FLOW, program.
Motor carriers involved in the FLOW program, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics:
- Gulf Winds
- IMC Companies
- NFI Industries
Per background the White House provided, the FLOW program is a public-private partnership that “brings together U.S. supply chain stakeholders to create a shared, common picture of supply chain networks and facilitate a more reliable flow of goods.”
“DOT is announcing a new milestone for FLOW, in which participants are beginning to utilize FLOW data to inform their logistics decision-making, helping to avoid bottlenecks, shorten lead times for customers, and enable a more resilient and globally competitive freight network through earlier warnings of supply chain disruption,” according to the White House.
“I truly believe that 50 years from now, when historians are taking a look at this — looking back at this moment — when they look back on the work we’re doing to build the economy from the bottom up and middle out; to strengthen the American supply chains and manufacturing workers all across the country, they’re going to say that this was the beginning — when America won the competition of the 21st century,” Biden said. “I’ve never been more optimistic about our nation’s future.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, tasked with overseeing the IIJA’s implementation, also expressed optimism about ensuring the reliability of supply chains, especially during the holidays.
The secretary also echoed the president’s upbeat sentiment regarding the economy and infrastructure investments: “Since President Biden took office we have focused on supply chain improvements, not just to recover from pandemic-driven disruptions but also to make lasting improvements for a stronger and more resilient future.”
“Our new Multimodal Freight Office,” Buttigieg continued, “will lead coordination of our work to strengthen supply chains — including the FLOW data initiative helping companies and ports make better-informed decisions — so that they can move goods more efficiently and keep costs down for Americans.”
The Week Ahead (all times ET)
Dec. 5, 10 a.m.: The House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Water Resources Development Acts: Status of Past Provisions and Future Needs.” (Watch live)
Dec. 6, 10 a.m.: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets for a hearing titled, “IIJA Investments in Habitat and Ecosystem Restoration, Pollinators and Wildlife Crossings.” Witnesses include Martha Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Brian Fouch, associate administrator for federal lands at the Federal Highway Administration.
Dec. 7, 10 a.m.: Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of J. Todd Inman for a seat on the National Transportation Safety Board. (Watch live)
In a post-Yellow world, stakeholders are trying to pick up the pieces industrywide.
American Trucking Associations is leading opposition to legislation in Congress aiming at recasting how certain commercial drivers are compensated. The recently introduced Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act would disrupt existing compensation structures between an employer and employee, as well as potentially interfere with supply chain connectivity, the leadership at ATA said in response to the legislation.
“This proposal is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to boost trial attorneys’ fees. It would reduce drivers’ paychecks and decimate trucking jobs by upending the pay models that for 85 years have provided family-sustaining wages while growing the U.S. supply chain,” said Chris Spear, ATA president, shortly after the bill’s introduction in November. “Truckload drivers today are earning nearly $70,000 on average plus benefits, and wages across the board continue to rise at historic rates year-over-year — except at Yellow, where one party’s refusal to come to the table destroyed 30,000 jobs. The bill would not affect owner-operators, who, as independent contractors, are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
The Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act would repeal a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act specific to certain commercial drivers in regard to overtime compensation.
Months after the Senate Commerce Committee approved Alvin Brown for a seat on the National Transportation Safety Board, the chamber has yet to schedule a vote on his nomination. If confirmed, the mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., would serve on the independent agency through 2026. The panel reported Brown’s nomination in July. Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) supports the nominee: “The NTSB board needs hardworking and dedicated individuals who put safety as their top priority, and I believe that Mayor Brown will do so on behalf of the American people.”
Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, takes it to the extreme (again).
Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.
It's a full house at today's bipartisan staff briefing as we prepare to kick off the Water Resources Development Act of 2024 process! pic.twitter.com/RRofBopAk4 — T&I Committee Republicans (@TransportGOP) December 1, 2023
Our entire economy relies heavily on reliable air travel of people and goods.
Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) on Nov. 30Image
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