U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) will convene the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. for a hearing entitled, “Keeping Goods Moving.” The hearing will focus on the U.S. supply chain, particularly the importance of efficiently functioning U.S. ports. The panel will take expert testimony from witnesses on what it takes to maintain an efficient and reliable U.S. port, as well as the economic and logistical impact of port delays, congestion, and inadequate or outdated infrastructure on our nation’s intermodal transportation network.
Capacity challenges, and the changing dynamics of international shipping highlight the importance of functioning port infrastructure. Delays underscore how port disruptions can cause manufacturers across the country to cancel orders and lose business, ultimately impacting consumers and the broader economy. Equipment shortages, labor strife, worldwide moves toward larger vessels, and security challenges all have potential to create new shipping disruptions if not properly addressed.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security hearing entitled: “Keeping Goods Moving”
10:00 a.m. in room SR-253
For reporters interested in reserving a seat, please contact the press gallery:
• Periodical Press Gallery – 202-224-0265
• Radio/Television Gallery – 202-224-6421
• Press Photographers Gallery – 202-224-6548
• Daily Press Gallery – 202-224-0241
Please note the hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Refresh the Commerce Committee homepage 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to automatically begin streaming the webcast.
Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for the webcast hearing, should contact Stephanie Gamache at 202-224-5511 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.
Dr. Walter KemmsiesChief EconomistMiffatt & Nichol
Chairman Deb Fischer
"Good Morning. I am pleased to convene the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation & Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security for our second hearing, which is entitled “Keeping Goods Moving.”
"To grow the economy and create new jobs, we need an efficient and reliable intermodal transportation network. Today’s hearing allows us to explore this issue with a particular focus on infrastructure and maintaining operations at our nation’s ports. America’s intermodal transportation network is the foundation upon which U.S. businesses, along all segments of the supply chain, produce goods and get them to market.
"At our last hearing, Cabela’s outlined how disruptions or inefficiencies along our nation’s just-in-time shipping network cost companies through “lost sales, increased costs, and poor customer service.”
"Deepwater ports represent a key element of the U.S. transportation network and are vital to our economic growth. In fact, America’s seaports often serve as the key connection point for all modes of transportation. Our West Coast ports alone move 12.5 percent of U.S. GDP per year.
"A shutdown of America’s West Coast ports, even for a short period of time, would have devastating economic consequences. According to a recent report by the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers, in the most severe case, a 20-day West Coast ports closure would disrupt 405,000 jobs, reduce U.S. GDP by almost $50 billion, and cost the U.S. economy $2.5 billion per day.
"I’ve heard from businesses and consumers in my state expressing grave concerns about service disruptions at West Coast ports. Just last week, my office heard from an Omaha-based company that manufactures electric conductors with inputs from Asia. This company is seeing its import timeframe double and costs triple because of current slowdowns.
"For many businesses, changing shipping routes or modes is cost prohibitive. Unfortunately, whether they export agricultural goods or import retail, businesses are being forced to opt for air fright or are re-routing products to avoid losing market share due to missed shipments. Port congestion also impacts truckers and freight rail, as well as the competitiveness of the ports themselves. Everyone has a stake in seeing the ongoing negotiations between PMA and ILWU resolved quickly.
"Members of Congress and the administration must pay close attention to these ongoing negotiations and the economic impact of service disruptions at our ports. This is particularly important as we face the potential for ports on both coasts to be negotiating simultaneously in 2018, which is when the current East Coast labor contract expires.
"I am pleased that today’s panel will represent a wide array of perspectives on the effect of recent disruptions in our nation’s supply chain. I’m eager to hear further details from our panelists on the challenges that slowdowns at our nation’s West Coast ports have posed to their industries and customers.
"I am also looking forward to hearing about opportunities for Congress, state and local governments, and the private sector to work toward modernizing and enhancing our nation’s ports infrastructure for businesses, workers, and consumers.
"We need to explore the policy options to support port growth and future volumes of freight to keep goods moving.
"I would now like to invite my colleague from the other side of the aisle to offer opening remarks."
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Norman BessacVice-President, International SalesCargill
Ms. Katie FarmerVice President, Consumer ProductsBNSF
Dr. Walter KemmsiesCheif EconomistMoffatt & Nichol
Mr. John E. GreulingBoard MemberCoalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors