The United States House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee recently announced it will hold a hearing on February 1, with a sharp focus on logistics and the supply chain.
The hearing, which is entitled “The State of Transportation Infrastructure and Supply Chain Challenges,” features leadership from various national organizations, including: Chris Spear, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Trucking Associations; Ian Jefferies, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of American Railroads; Jeff Firth, Vice President, Hamilton Construction, on behalf of Associated General Contractors of America; Roger Guenther, Executive Director, Port Houston; and Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.
The timing appears to be good for this type of hearing, for a whole host of reasons, many of which were came to light over the course of the pandemic, in the form of labor issues, manufacturing delays, railroad service issues, sourcing challenges, and port congestion, among others.
That was made clear at last week’s SMC3 JumpStart conference in Atlanta.
Tom Jensen, VP Government Relations, for autonomous trucking firm TuSimple, explained to SMC3 attendees that it is important to remember that “politics drive the policy,” in a fundamental sense.
“That is something that works in the favor of the goods movement community,” he said. “What works in our favor is that coming out of the pandemic, goods movers’—LTL, truckload, maritime, intermodal—stock is up, from a perspective of policymakers and regulators realizing what you do matters. A lot of it is related to things like moving away from fossil fuels for LTL, truckload and Class 7 and 8 commercial vehicles, and these issues have been elevated.”
That elevation, he said, is a good thing, as it draws more attention to just how much it matters, in terms of what the goods movers do on a daily basis.
And Bill Sullivan, executive vice president of advocacy for the American Trucking Associations (ATA) put that into perspective, noting that as it relates to the pandemic, the relationships ATA made with the White House in the early days of the Biden Administration, across various offices, turned to the ATA for guidance on how to procure certain needed items for people, like water, fuel, groceries, and toilet paper, to the places they needed to be.
Randy Mullett, founder and principal of Mullett Strategies, observed that the pandemic brought about a major supply chain crisis, adding that this week’s House T&I hearing, its first in the new Congress are directly related to goods movement.
“It does speak to where [freight transportation, logistics, and supply chain] we are in the pecking order compared to where we may have been in the past,” he said.
And ATA’s Sullivan made the point that regardless of partisan views, supply chain is something people generally can agree on, with this week’s hearing serving as a recognition that the supply chain is the glue helping to keep the economy together.
This week’s hearing should be interesting, to say the least, as it will provide perspective on various factors and issues impacting the economy and how the goods movement piece of it is a truly important, needed, and essential cog. That is something that has been made very clear going back to the onset of the pandemic.