Yesterday afternoon, the US Senate Committee on Commerce Science & Transportation passed ‘Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute’ to S. 3580 the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 2022. The OSRA bill will now proceed to full Senate consideration, then ‘conferenced’ with the similar bill passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representative (363-57) last year, before being sent to the President, who has already endorsed the legislation and will sign it promptly. Reflecting the sense of urgency, we expect this to be completed this Spring.
OSRA legislation was initially motivated by the urgent need to provide statutory mandates and enforcement authority to gain carrier compliance with the Federal Maritime Commission’s Interpretive Rule on Detention and Demurrage, setting forth guidelines as to reasonable ocean carrier practices. The House acted first, drafting and passing an OSRA bill which includes two key provisions first proposed and advocated by the AgTC, including CA Farm Bureau. Similar provisions were included in the OSRA bill adopted by the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday.
First, requiring any detention or demurrage invoice to be accompanied by the carrier’s certification of compliance with the FMC’s Detention and Demurrage (D & D) guidelines, and an informal process by which the FMC will investigate failures to provide accurate certification. The Senate bill includes similar provisions, while providing even more specificity as to what detention/demurrage charges are allowed, and which are not.
The second provision advocated by the AgTC, reflects Congressional concern that exporters report their export bookings being declined or cancelled, leaving our exports stranded here, while carriers take unprecedented numbers of empty containers back overseas. Both the House and Senate bills include provisions designed to increase carriage of our export cargoes.