The House of Representative passed, with strong support from the home and housewares industry, The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 Wednesday in a vote of 364-60 vote.
The bipartisan bill, introduced in August by Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), is intended to curb unfair practices and charges by ocean carriers that have contributed to skyrocketing freight costs and extended delays for U.S.-bound containers.
This bipartisan bill offers several provisions:
- Establishment of minimum shipping service contracts;
- Giving Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) with greater enforcement power;
- Shifting burden of proof in complaints to ocean carrier/marine terminal;
- Authorizing FMC to order refund relief and civil penalties;
- Permitting third-party challenges in complaints vs. carriers;
- Enacting anti-retaliation safeguards to protect complainants.
The bill also establishes the creation of a shipping exchange registry for improved data collection and reporting practices. It will also increase FMC funding by 10 percent and direct the FMC to release an annual report on shipping operators and marine terminal operators filing false certifications.
The House bill was passed with support from a coalition of several industry trade associations, including the International Housewares Association and the National Retail Federation. IHA initiated a letter-writing campaign to facilitate home and housewares industry outreach to congressional leaders in support of ocean shipping reform.
“We applaud the House for decisively passing this important bipartisan bill,” said Derek Miller, IHA president. “We thank home and housewares companies, along with members of so many other industries, for their overwhelming support of this legislation to prevent unfair ocean shipping practices that have disrupted this business during a period of surging consumer demand.”