Schrader, Newhouse Applaud Passage of Port Performance Program in Surface Transportation Bill

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Washington, December 3, 2015 | Liz Margolis (202-225-5711) | comments

Today, Congressmen Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Dan Newhouse (WA-04) released the following statements applauding passage of the bipartisan H.R. 22, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to reauthorize transportation and infrastructure programs.

Schrader and Newhouse led the effort to include the Port Performance Program within the FAST Act requiring the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to collect and report port statistics which will then be published in an annual report by BTS. The bill also establishes a working group to make recommendations to BTS to determine specific port metrics. The working group will have at least 22 members, including government officials and representatives from labor and industry, with the final decision on metrics resting with the BTS Director.

“As an essential component of our transportation system, and the global supply chain, our ports are critical to U.S. farmers and businesses. The efficient flow of cargo in and out of our ports is vital to the economic health of our country. Unfortunately, very little data exists on the performance of our ports, when it is a requirement in nearly every other sector of our transportation system and is important not only identifying and dealing with congestion in the system, but also shaping transportation policy,” said Congressman Schrader. “I appreciate the inclusion of this provision in the FAST Act and am hopeful this can strengthen the tools necessary to prevent further port disruptions and lead to increased investment and a boost to our economy.”

“The Port Performance Program is a step forward for transparency on ports operations,” said Congressman Newhouse. “I applaud passage of the FAST Act with important provisions to establish a metrics program that will provide objective baseline economic data for ports operations. Improved port metrics will provide a critical tool to examine the economic effects of port slowdowns such as the disastrous West Coast Ports slowdown earlier this year, and I thank my colleague, Rep. Schrader, for working with me on this effort.”

The Port Performance Program within the FAST Act would create the following requirements:

•                    The BTS Director must submit a report on port capacity and throughput no later than January 15th of each year;

•                    The annual report must cover, at a minimum, the top 25 ports in the nation by tonnage, containers, and dry bulk;

•                    The working group must be established within 60 days of the bill’s enactment, and the working group members must submit their recommendations to the BTS Director within one year of enactment of the bill;

In response to the West Coast Ports slowdown earlier this year, Congressmen Schrader and Newhouse introduced the H.R. 3932, the Ensuring Continued Operations and No Other Major Incidents, Closures, or Slowdowns (ECONOMICS) Act last month. The ECONOMICS Act would establish specific economic “triggers,” so that when certain economic impacts surrounding a dispute occur, a Board of Inquiry must be convened, and the Board would be required to report to the President and the public to recommend whether there should be a judicial injunction.

For a summary of the FAST Act, click HERE.

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