Todd Young joins group of GOP senators to address supply chain issues

Todd Young at IBJ Oct. 10 2017
U.S. Sen. Todd Young of Indiana. (IBJ file photo)

U.S. Sen. Todd Young is joining efforts in Congress to help with the country’s growing supply chain crisis, sponsoring legislation that would enhance government oversight and data on shipping and streamline certification requirements for truck drivers.

Young, an Indiana Republican, is among six GOP senators on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation who filed the Facilitating Relief for Efficient Intermodal Gateways to Handle Transportation, or FREIGHT, Act.

“We must work to reduce congestion throughout the entire supply chain by alleviating pressure points at our ports and in our freight transportation system that are harming Hoosier businesses,” Young said in a statement. “The FREIGHT Act will address a number of these root issues at the Federal Maritime Commission and the Department of Transportation.”

Young’s support of the bill comes after he voted against the sweeping $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which included $17 billion in additional funding for ports and a supply chain-related measure Young had long championed. Young supported the infrastructure bill in earlier test votes but said he ultimately wasn’t convinced the package was “fiscally responsible.”

Much of the FREIGHT Act is aimed at addressing the lack of data-sharing that can cause delays and inefficiencies as cargo moves from one part of the supply chain to another.

The measure establishes new studies for standardizing documents and data and requires the  collection of public data on “dwell time” for shipping equipment.

It also would create a Department of Transportation grant program for port-related stakeholders to standardize the terms they use in their documents and operations and how they communicate with each other about the moving of freight.

Under the bill, the Federal Maritime Commission would be required to add seven new positions to expand oversight of ports. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics would be required to collect and produce statistics on equipment “dwell time,” which would show how long intermodal equipment like chassis and containers are in use or under repair.

The FMC would be authorized under this legislation to mandate ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to share information relevant to the movement of goods, if the FMC determines that an emergency exists and that information would help freight movement.

The introduction of this legislation comes as President Joe Biden is also working to fight the supply chain battle.

His administration has implemented plans to clear clogged freight channels, calling for 24-hour dock work and standardized data exchanges on cargo movement.

Biden also has touted the $1.2 trillion infrastructure improvement plan as a way to ease the transportation of products and supplies from overseas and within the U.S. to help lower prices, reduce shortages and add jobs.

A spokesperson from Young’s office told IBJ that Young and other Republican senators plan to send a letter to Biden asking his administration to testify before the Commerce and Transportation Committee about supply chain issues in an effort to craft bipartisan solutions.

Earlier this year, Young led the way for legislation that allows younger truck drivers to be involved in interstate shipping. That measure ended up in the infrastructure bill—which he ultimately voted against.

Young’s DRIVE-Safe Act creates a three-year pilot apprenticeship program that allows commercial truck drivers 18 years and older to drive across state lines. In most states, people under 21 can receive a commercial driver’s license, but federal regulations restrict them from driving across state lines. Young had introduced the legislation for a third time this year with bipartisan backing.

He has said the DRIVE-Safe program would address the ongoing trucker shortage and relieve some of the bottlenecking in the supply chains. A report released in October by the American Trucking Associations estimated that the industry is short 80,000 drivers and that number is expected to double by 2030 when more drivers retire.

“Today, 18-year-olds can drive more than 200 miles from New Albany to Gary and back, but they aren’t allowed to drive two miles from New Albany to Louisville,” Young had said in a previous statement. “The DRIVE-Safe pilot program will address the driver shortage, provide new career opportunities for young Hoosiers and Americans, and make the roads safer.”

Young’s spokesperson said Young did “heavy-lifting” to get the act through the Senate, placing it into the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill to extend regular annual federal road funding when it was in committee in June.

That bill was then folded into the infrastructure bill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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7 thoughts on “Todd Young joins group of GOP senators to address supply chain issues

  1. Good to see Sen. Young has remembered that we sent him to Washington to actually produce something, not just obstruct, which has become the primary purpose of the GOP lately. But we’re not completely fooled, given that he got one measure all the way to the goal line, then punted when he rejoined the obstruction caucus and voted against much-needed and popular infrastructure measures–which included his own bill. We’ll believe you mean well, Senator, when you actually follow all the way through and resist the urge to be an obstructionist, anti-democracy politician.

  2. Here is all you need to know about how serious Todd Young is on this issue:

    “Young’s support of the (FREIGHT Act) bill comes after he voted against the sweeping $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which included $17 billion in additional funding for ports and a supply chain-related measure Young had long championed. Young supported the infrastructure bill in earlier test votes but said he ultimately wasn’t convinced the package was ‘fiscally responsible.’”

    Bottom line: Young supports information sharing by transportation stakeholders and opposes physical improvements and expansion of the chokepoint ports that are a major cog in the supply chain. Sounds like he didn’t do his homework.

  3. You would think supply chain and infrastructure would be bipartisan issues. But rhetoric and obstruction seem to be more important than solving problems or making improvements, thus hurting everyone and benefitting no one. I don’t get it.

  4. Wait this is a republican that says we need increased regulation and more spending on the department that does the regulation? Why shouldn’t that work for the IRS and the ATF, or is it OK to defund the tax and gun police?

    Oh… Now I see, it should be easy to cheat on taxes, and who cares as illegal guns flood cities, but all bets are off when you might not get your Nintendo or Xbox for Christmas.

    Plus, I am not so sure having an 18 YO driving an 80,000 vehicle is such a good idea.

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