The National Association of Waterfront Employers (NAWE) today applauded Representatives Jake Auchincloss (D-MA-04) and Brian Babin (R-TX-36), members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee, for urging Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman Daniel B. Maffei, to follow Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) congressional intent throughout the law’s implementation and rulemaking process.

The letter comes on the heels of the FMC proposed rulemaking to establish demurrage and detention billing requirements under OSRA and outlines the specific provisions related to MTOs that were removed from the final bill, passed by both congressional chambers and signed into law by President Biden on June 16, 2022.

“The Port of Boston appreciates Representative Auchincloss for his work on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recognizing the importance of Conley Terminal to the supply chain and economy of Massachusetts,” said Joseph M. Morris, Port Director of Massachusetts Port Authority.

“We applaud Congressman Babin and Congressman Auchincloss for their leadership in reaffirming the original intent of Congress established in OSRA 2022, to incentivize the timely retrieval of cargo from marine terminals,” said Port of Houston Director of Government Relations Cam Spencer. “The FMC’s recent interpretation to disallow terminal demurrage on weekends and holidays disincentivizes shippers from timely retrieval of cargo and reduces efficiencies of marine terminals. And, currently proposed rule-making that increases the burden of administrative billing processes will even further disrupt cargo fluidity through our nation’s ports. We believe MTOs will be able to better serve the supply chain and maximize the limited capacity available to America’s ports as a result of the initiatives of Congressman Babin and Congressman Auchincloss.”

“As the Commission proceeds with its proposed rulemaking, it is imperative that they follow Congressional intent. The current approach by the FMC blatantly disregards the law and would slow down a supply chain that is regaining its strength. NAWE’s members appreciate Reps. Auchincloss and Babin for taking the lead on this issue, recognizing the unique environment in which waterfront workers operate. NAWE’s top priority will continue to be the health and safety of its workforce,” said NAWE President Robert Murray.

Furthermore, the letter also highlights Commissioner Maffei’s March 23 congressional testimony wherein he stated that the FMC should avoid disincentivizing the timely retrieval of cargo from marine terminals and should adhere to the “incentive principle.” Recently the Commission determined that equipment detention charges for holiday weekends did not align with the “incentive principle.” The lawmakers state their continued concerns that extending the Commission’s recent interpretation to terminal demurrage would disincentivize the timely removal of containers from marine terminals, impeding cargo fluidity at America’s ports.

“The United States has just recovered from unprecedented supply chain congestion that caused great harm to our economy, and we cannot allow counterproductive government regulation to threaten the stability we have restored at American ports. Therefore, we urge you to remove MTOs from the OSRA detention and demurrage rulemaking and to ensure that the FMC does not extend its recent “Incentive Principle” interpretation to terminal demurrage,” the lawmakers wrote.