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GSCW chat: US Chamber focused on multiple supply chain issues

This fireside chat recap is from Day 3 of FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Policy solutions for the supply chain crisis

DETAILS: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is trying to steer pro-business policy discussions around port congestion and visibility, domestic manufacturing resilience for critical supplies, and infrastructure funding disbursements.

SPEAKER: John Drake, vice president of supply chain policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

BIO: Drake oversees the development and implementation of the Chamber’s supply chain policy priorities and represents the Chamber before Congress, the administration, the business community and other stakeholders. He previously was senior manager for public policy at Amazon and led government affairs at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. He also served as a deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy and was deputy administrator at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. He spent nearly 10 years on Capitol Hill, including as a professional staff member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Transportation and Infrastructure committees. Earlier, he was the American Trucking Associations’ top representative to the Senate.

KEY QUOTES FROM DRAKE: 

“We’re tracking closely the upcoming negotiations with the [West Coast] longshoremen that [are] expected to start in March. These are always tough conversations. There are going to be some big challenges and part of that is the huge amount of traffic that the ports have been dealing with. The longshoremen have been doing an incredible job this last year-and-a-half. I think they have a lot of leverage coming in. And if history is any guide, it should not be unexpected to see work slowdowns, a potential strike as we get closer” to the end of the contract in the summer.

“One of the big victories to come out of Washington last year was the enactment of the infrastructure law that provided record investment in our transportation infrastructure. Frankly, Congress is patting themselves on the back for something they should have been doing for many years. The levels of investment in our nation’s infrastructure [have] been unacceptably low for too long. What we’re tracking most closely is to make sure that those federal dollars going out the door to invest in freight and port projects are being targeted towards the best possible investments. We want to make sure that the DOT and the states are identifying projects that are going to have a national consequence, and we’re not just repaving a road that might lead to a port that serves a minor market. We want to make sure we are alleviating bottlenecks that undermine national movements. There’s a lot of opportunities there to build bridges, double-stack tunnels for trains, that will make a big difference in improving our overall competitiveness and help businesses move goods at cheaper rates.”