Supply Chain to Dominate House Panel Hearing May 10
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Again and again, Washington’s transportation intelligentsia reminds the country of the supply chain’s vital role.
Transporting freight, from ports to the consumer, entails serious planning complemented by precision and intention. Logistics firms as well as many commercial transportation stakeholders continue their round-the-clock operations to, simply put, keep everything moving.
The post-pandemic economy elevated supply chain themes to the mainstream. Congress and the Biden administration stepped in with policies to assist industries. The aim was to alleviate disruptions associated with the flow of freight.
This week, House transportation policymakers intend to hold a hearing that examines aspects of the administration’s supply chain action plan. The May 10 gathering of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee is “focused on the trucking industry’s role in overcoming supply chain challenges.”
Arkansas Republican Rep. Rick Crawford. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)
“Following up on the first hearing of the 118th Congress, the committee continues to focus on ongoing supply chain challenges throughout the transportation sector, with the goal of identifying potential legislative solutions,” per background information the committee provided.
For this “Freight Forward: Overcoming Supply Chain Challenges to Deliver for America” hearing, the subcommittee scheduled expert testimony from: William “Lewie” Pugh, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; Anne Reinke, president and CEO of the Transportation Intermediaries Association; David Fialkov, executive vice president of government affairs at Natso; and Cole Scandaglia, senior legislative representative and policy adviser with the Teamsters union. Chairing the hearing will be Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.).
The hearing, which is meant to inform policymakers tasked with crafting legislation, is being held shortly after the Government Accountability Office recommended the Department of Transportation develop timelines to update the Federal Highway Administration’s Freight and Land Use Handbook. That is a document that serves as a guide for stakeholders.
The federal government watchdog suggested developing a strategy for communicating details about the updated handbook with stakeholders. “Freight stakeholders,” according to highlights of the recent report, “told GAO they develop inland facilities, which GAO refers to as inland intermodal freight facilities, to increase supply chain mobility, reduce marine terminal congestion and process freight. Freight stakeholders use such facilities to transfer cargo containers between modes of transportation … to enable cargo to move through the supply chain.”
Earlier this year, House lawmakers took aim at freight connectivity concerns with a bill that would dedicate funds to expand truckers’ access to parking nationwide. The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act, introduced by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), would approve nearly $800 million through fiscal 2026 for parking projects connected to commercial vehicle operations.
“It is the sense of Congress that it should be a national priority to address the shortage of parking for commercial motor vehicles on the federal-aid highway system to improve highway safety,” according to the bill, which also would promote safety and enhance capacity along freight corridors.
The House also recently passed a Republican-led energy and infrastructure permitting legislation. Sponsors of the bill said it captured the caucus’ priorities for their domestic policy agenda.
"It’s time to focus on addressing long-standing #supplychain issues to ensure we are prepared when large import volumes return or the next major disruption episode occurs," writes NRF's @JonGoldDC. https://t.co/jmpqZMDn4K — National Retail Federation (@NRFnews) April 24, 2023
Meanwhile, the administration points to various quick-response approaches to recent supply chain concerns. The Department of Transportation has dedicated funds to facilitate last-mile freight transport. Last year, the department formed a voluntary forum through which freight sector stakeholders are able to share information on supply chain issues. The Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) initiative aims to improve connectivity along commercial corridors.
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
May 10, 10 a.m.: House Highways and Transit Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Freight Forward: Overcoming Supply Chain Challenges to Deliver for America.” Watch the hearing here.
May 10, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee considers comprehensive freight rail legislation. Watch the hearing here.
May 11, 2 p.m.: The House Railroads Subcommittee examines supply chain strategies. Watch the hearing here.
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