White House, U.S. Department of Transportation Appoint Port Envoy to Address Supply Chain Disruptions

Aug 30, 2021 | Your Source

John D. Porcari—then Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Transportation—speaks at the 2010 NDTA Forum in Washington DC.

The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation have announced that John D. Porcari will be the Port Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.

Envoy Porcari will work closely with Secretary Buttigieg and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) as well as the National Economic Council to address congestion at U.S. ports. Disruptions in global shipping and rapid shifts in demand have led the cost of shipping containers between China and the West Coast to grow more than 90% compared to 2019. Containerized cargo volumes rose 40% in the first half of this year compared to the same time last year at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle the largest share of containerized cargo moving through U.S. ports. Envoy Porcari will work with stakeholders and others at the ports to address the backlog and associated delivery delays and product shortages being experienced by American consumers and businesses.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is using a whole-of-government approach to work with labor and industry leadership to identify, reduce and eliminate maritime supply chain issues,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Envoy Porcari’s leadership in both the public and private infrastructure sectors make him uniquely qualified to work with stakeholders and federal agencies to address supply chain disruptions.”

Since the launch of the Task Force, Secretary Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation have been engaged in extensive outreach and engagement with port stakeholders including holding a virtual round table in July with representatives of all aspects of the port supply chain.  USDOT leaders have met with the World Shipping Council, representatives and leading companies from the National Retail Federation, Commissioners of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), labor unions, and stakeholders throughout our entire supply chain to discuss current challenges in cargo movement and opportunities to improve data sharing. Department of Transportation leaders have also been on the ground visiting ports to discuss supply chain disruption issues in BaltimoreSeattle, and New York.

Out of this work, it has become clear that the challenges at our ports—many of which have existed for years—require dedicated focus by experienced, senior leadership to drive toward outcomes that will reduce congestion, improve operations, and set us on a sustainable path for the future. John Porcari is uniquely qualified to take on this role.

“The pandemic has fundamentally disrupted our supply chains which is impacting consumers, workers, and businesses across the country,” said John D. Porcari, Ports Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions. “I am excited to hit the ground running and get to work immediately with industry, labor, and other port stakeholders to address these challenges and to build a more resilient, future-facing supply chain that powers our economy into the future.”

In addition to the Task Force’s work, USDOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is also working to address supply chain disruptions at ports. Just yesterday, FRA made nearly $362 million of funding availably through its Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program. CRISI funds projects that can help reduce congestion by enhancing multi-modal connections and improving service integration between rail and other modes at port facilities. These grants will help build resilience across the American supply chain, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing Task Force on Short Term Supply Chain Disruptions.

Further, the Biden Administration is working to secure a historic $17 billion in investments in port infrastructure as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. The funding would help address congestion and supply chains over time by investing in repair and maintenance backlogs and reduce congestion and emissions near ports.

“The strength of the U.S. economic recovery has tested the near-term capacity of our supply chains, and the Administration is operating on all fronts to ease bottlenecks and facilitate the flow of goods across the country,” said NEC Director Brian Deese. “Our country’s ports are the gateways for getting goods to market, which makes the appointment of John Porcari as Ports Envoy an especially important step forward in alleviating these disruptions that are impacting consumers, workers, and businesses alike.”

The Task Force was established in June to address supply and demand mismatches that emerged in several sectors as the economy reawakened following the Administration’s historic vaccination and economic relief efforts. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg leads the Task Force focus on ports and trucking issues. The Task Force’s leadership also includes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on food and agriculture and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on homebuilding and semiconductors.

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