Republicans to Review Supply Chain Operations

Sam Graves
Rep. Sam Graves by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

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For their first order of business this year, Republicans on the transportation committee in the U.S. House of Representatives intend to delve into supply chain operations.

The panel, tasked with advancing improvements for big-ticket infrastructure programs, will meet with stakeholders for a hearing Feb. 1 covering freight operations.

American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear and officials from the rail and port sectors are scheduled to participate in the hearing. (Watch here.)

Concerns regarding the efficient transport of commodities and goods along the nation’s vast commercial corridors are a focus of Republican policymakers who are taking aim at the Biden administration’s response to recent supply chain woes.

Several senior Republicans, for the moment, appear determined to expand oversight of the Biden administration’s approach to alleviating such supply chain bottlenecks, as well as their response to economic pressure points at gas stations and grocery stores.

After-action reviews of the administration’s response are seen as valuable lessons-learned case studies. As Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) put it soon after the start of the new Republican-led House, “Improving our nation’s infrastructure and ensuring an efficient transportation supply chain are the types of improvements that can significantly better the day-to-day lives of our constituents.”

Most of Graves’ GOP colleagues have shared a similar viewpoint as they pledge to pursue policies that aim to assist economic conditions at the local level. Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), a senior transportation policymaker, recently expressed a commitment to “work on common-sense solutions to strengthen America and improve the lives of all.”

Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), also a member of the transportation panel, introduced legislation designed to promote safety and enhance capacity along supply chain operations. “Americans experienced a slew of freight disruptions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Johnson said on Jan. 24. “Last year we addressed ocean shipping reform, and it’s clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain.” His bill has yet to be scheduled for committee consideration.

Host Seth Clevenger speaks with Torc Robotics CEO Peter Vaughan Schmidt about the realities of autonomous truck technology and how they fit into the freight transportation industry. Hear the program above and at

Second of a three-part series on autonomous vehicles. Hear Part I herePart III coming Feb. 2.

A deep dive on supply chain policies is central to the oversight strategy of House Republicans. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has touted his caucus’ pledge to carefully examine the Biden administration. In an editorial this month the speaker elucidated, “House Republicans have already shown we will keep our commitment to America, work on behalf of the American people and deliver them a better future. This isn’t just the start of a new Congress. This is the start of a new direction in Washington.”

On budgetary matters, McCarthy’s leadership team has signaled the potential for negotiating with the White House over the coming months.

Senate Republicans also intend to examine President Joe Biden’s directives during his tenure. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming recently took aim at the White House’s economic policy. The chairman of the Senate Republican Conference has issued Biden a failing grade. Senate Republicans are governing in the minority during the 118th Congress.

“A slow-moving economy under Joe Biden has become the new normal,” Barrasso said in a statement Jan. 26. “Democrats are sending American energy and jobs overseas, spending money we do not have, shutting down the supply chain, and burdening job creators with Washington red tape. The Democrat agenda is not a recipe for a roaring economy. Senate Republicans are ready to lead the way for the great American comeback.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)


Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a staunch supporter of the president’s agenda, called on colleagues to embrace bipartisanship during the legislative process. Most Democrats in the upper chamber continue to endorse the White House’s plans regarding supply chain issues.

“I want to work with Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy to get things done, but so far, House Republicans have been focused on delivering for wealthy special interests and the extreme wing of their party,” said Schumer on Jan. 13.

Related to its supply chain response, the Biden administration issued this month a plan for pursuing climate change and safety initiatives. As Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg observed on Jan. 10: “Every decision about transportation is also an opportunity to build a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future. When our air is cleaner; when more people can get good-paying jobs; when everyone stays connected to the resources they need and the people they love, we are all better off.”

Added Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, “The domestic transportation sector presents an enormous opportunity to drastically reduce emissions that accelerate climate change and reduce harmful pollution.”

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