Advocates of the Port Performance Act (PPA) received a boost when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it estimated the Act’s implementation would cost only $9 million over a five-year period from 2016 through 2020.
The PPA aims to help Congress analyse supply trends and identify freight bottlenecks.
It would direct the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) within the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish a programme to collect statistical information on the largest 25 ports in the US.
The CBO is a non-partisan federal agency within the legislative branch of the US government that provides budget and economic information to the US Congress.
In June the US Senate approved the PPA but in July a provision that would have included such monitoring during labour contract talks was stripped out.
That provision had raised the concerns of unions and Democrats who saw a potential for government interference in such talks and thought it suspicious because it came soon after the West Coast ports dispute which caused much disruption to cargo traffic.
But that provision’s loss is a blow to shippers and port operators.
Lobbying bodies for the ports, including the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) have expressed reservations about the Act, usually backing its intent but questioning its methods.
The bill was considered by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in late June. It is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.