By Kaia Hubbard
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a measure aimed at rooting out price gouging on the part of ocean shipping companies, which the White House says will make progress toward reducing costs for families and help American businesses.
“I promised to crack down on ocean carriers whose price hikes have hurt American families and American businesses,” Biden said during the event Thursday in which he signed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act. “And today I’m proud to say that we’ve got that done on a bipartisan basis.”
Supporters of the bill, which increases oversight of ocean shipping by boosting the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission, say it will help ease inflation and export backlogs. The House of Representatives approved the bill earlier this week on a 369-42 vote after the Senate did so unanimously earlier this year.
“In short, it’s going to help begin to lower shipping costs – bring down prices on everything from goods to products that the American families need,” Biden said. “And ensure that American farmers, ranchers and other exporters are treated fairly.”
Biden explained that the ocean carrier situation, along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, are some of the reasons why “prices are so high” nationwide, pointing to the consolidation of nine major shipping companies into three alliances that he said were “raking in” profits during the pandemic, while the cost was passed on “directly to consumers.”
“Families and businesses felt the squeeze here at home,” Biden said.
The development comes as the nation continues to experience a rise in inflation and as the Federal Reserve took its most aggressive step in nearly 30 years on Wednesday, raising its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point. The economic outlook is not a positive one for Biden, who has already seen dismal approval ratings attributable primarily to his handling of the economy, or for his party heading into the midterm elections.
“I’ve said many times, tackling inflation is my No. 1 priority,” Biden said Thursday. “This bill is going to help bring down inflation, at least marginally, for farmers and businesses all across America. And more than that, the bill is proof of what we can achieve when we work together: common ground.”