Bennet, Hickenlooper Applaud Senate Passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act

Legislation Will Help Hold Ocean Shipping Companies Accountable to Fix Supply Chain Issues & Ease Shipping Backlogs

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper applauded U.S. Senate passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, legislation they both co-sponsor to help fix supply chain issues and ease shipping backlogs.

“I’m glad the Senate came together to pass this legislation to hold shipping companies accountable as they continue to exploit supply chain issues to drive up prices,” said Bennet. “This a step toward stopping these unfair price hikes to lower costs for Colorado businesses, notably agricultural exporters, and consumers.”

“This is a shot across the bow of the foreign shipping cartels extorting American small businesses,” said Hickenlooper. “This bill will help level the playing field and ease the supply chain crunch driving inflation.”

International ocean carriers have been making it more difficult and more expensive for U.S. exporters to ship products overseas. As demand for shipping containers has increased along Asia-to-U.S. shipping routes, ocean carriers have increasingly adopted the practice of sending empty containers back to Asian markets as soon as they are unloaded at U.S. ports. This has left U.S. exporters with fewer options to ship their products overseas, and has worsened congestion at ports. 

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will level the playing field for American exporters by making it harder for ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse goods ready to export at ports. 

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act will:

  • Require ocean carriers  to certify that late fees — known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges — comply with federal regulations or face penalties;
  • Shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier;
  • Prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining shipping opportunities for U.S. exports, as determined by the FMC in new required rulemaking;
  • Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and 20-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States;
  • Authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate; and
  • Establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges.