Padilla, Feinstein Press Administration to Address Supply Chain Backlog

New letter to Transportation Secretary requests additional action to clear recent obstructions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif.) wrote to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg requesting that the Department take decisive action to address supply chain bottlenecks in California and across the country.

In the letter, the Senators offered their support to the administration and reiterated how essential passing the President’s ‘Build Back Better’ infrastructure agenda is to ensure supply chains are more resilient to interruptions. They also noted that the backlog not only has the potential to delay critical deliveries for businesses and consumers, but also may have played a role in the recent oil spill off the coast of Orange County as container ships are forced to anchor off the coast amid delays.

“As California ports…and their workers bolster their operations to help clear the shipping backlog, there remain additional transportation- and logistics-related challenges to moving these goods on our highways and railroads, including scarce freight rail and trucking capacity in certain regions, all of which is regulated by the Department of Transportation,” wrote the senators in a letter to Secretary Buttigieg.

“We appreciate the administration’s ongoing efforts to engage public and private sector entities to address these current transportation bottlenecks and other obstacles that could undermine our ongoing economic recovery,” they continued. “As the Biden administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force continues its work to address the ongoing supply chain challenges, we look forward to working with you to alleviate the existing backlog and strengthen the resiliency of our supply chains.”

The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles handle an estimated 40% of the container traffic that enters the United States. The Senators recently welcomed action by the administration to encourage these ports to launch 24/7 operations to help ease bottlenecks.

Senators Padilla and Feinstein voted to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in August, which would provide approximately $17 billion for port and waterway infrastructure, including funding to support zero-emission technology and electrification to mitigate air quality and environmental impacts on nearby communities. The Senators also voted to pass the United States Innovation and Competition Act in June, which would allocate tens of billions of dollars and bolster the federal government’s efforts to mitigate and address supply chain vulnerabilities. The Senators also support proposed investments in the “Build Back Better” reconciliation bill to improve supply chain resilience, reduce port congestion, develop offshore wind support infrastructure, enhance freight mobility, and reduce the impact of ports on the environment.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Secretary Buttigieg:

Given that the Department of Transportation oversees key pieces of the supply chain and that California is bearing the brunt of ongoing transportation and logistics bottlenecks, we write to offer our assistance in helping the Biden administration address the recent disruptions.

California plays a central role in the movement of goods throughout the United States. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handle 40 percent of all container traffic that enters the United States, much of which is then distributed from warehouses in California’s Inland Empire. Unprecedented consumer demand and the current unpredictability in the transportation supply chain have significantly increased container volumes at the Ports this year, leading to a backlog of cargo ships off the Southern California coast that, in addition to disrupting supply chains and causing numerous economic problems, may well have been responsible for the recent oil spill.

As California ports, including the Ports of Oakland and Hueneme, and their workers bolster their operations to help clear the shipping backlog, there remain additional transportation- and logistics-related challenges to moving these goods on our highways and railroads, including scarce freight rail and trucking capacity in certain regions, all of which is regulated by the Department of Transportation. Additionally, given the air quality and environmental impacts of increased port operations on nearby communities, it is essential that we advance the investments included in the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” and the “Build Back Better Act,” including funding to support electrification and the deployment of zero-emission technology. Specifically, Section 110026 of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee markup provides for robust funding for port infrastructure and supply chain resilience.

We appreciate the administration’s ongoing efforts to engage public and private sector entities to address these current transportation bottlenecks and other obstacles that could undermine our ongoing economic recovery. As the Biden administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force continues its work to address the ongoing supply chain challenges, we look forward to working with you to alleviate the existing backlog and strengthen the resiliency of our supply chains.  

Sincerely,

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