Gottheimer calls for new ‘Strategic Shipping Reserve’ to carry urgent supplies

Congressman, meeting with Transportation head Buttigieg, also pushes ‘Ports that Perform’ program, which would reward Port Newark

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, taking advantage of a visit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to Port Newark on Thursday, offered two ideas that he felt would assist the country’s supply-chain problems.

Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.) noted ships leaving China during the pandemic reached the port faster than those headed to West Coast ports. During 2021, more than 115,000 containers shifted to New Jersey and New York from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Gottheimer said the following moves by the federal government would help New Jersey capture the gains of that moment.

  • Strategic Shipping Reserve: Gottheimer called for President Joe Biden’s administration to utilize the U.S. Transportation Command as a new “Strategic Shipping Reserve” to move critical goods in the oceans — as they are now doing with Operation Fly Formula. Gottheimer said TRANSCOM has ships ready and waiting around the country that can handle containers to help address supply chain issues.
  • Ports that Perform incentives: In an effort to compete with the five major ocean carriers (all foreign-owned), boost our economy and tackle supply chain issues, Gottheimer called for ports like Newark that move goods faster to be given financial incentives, including to the port operators, truckers and longshoremen. For instance, during the holiday season height of the supply chain crisis, vessel wait times in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reached 18-24 days or longer. In contrast, at the Port of New York and New Jersey, vessels were never forced to wait more than 1-2 days.

Buttigieg’s visit was scheduled to discuss how investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed last November will improve North Jersey’s infrastructure, including ports, roads, rails and bridges, while helping build the Gateway Tunnel, address supply chain issues and create jobs.

Gottheimer said the importance of Port Newark, the largest container port on the East Coast and third-largest in the nation, cannot be overlooked. It handles nearly 9 million 20-foot equivalent containers annually. Its activities support approximately 500,000 jobs in New Jersey and New York and serve more than 134 million people regionally. The port contributes more than $12 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.

“Tackling supply chain issues is a key part of my Affordability Agenda for Jersey that puts forward action we can take right now to help our families and small businesses through the COVID-driven impact on our economy by getting more money back into Jersey families’ pockets,” Gottheimer said. “By addressing issues in our supply chain and by clawing investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill back to help us here, we’re working to end our reliance on major infrastructure that is decades old and puts our communities’ safety and our economy at risk.

“I want to make sure Jersey’s ports, counties, towns, municipalities and our transit agencies like NJ Transit are all fighting for the federal dollars and grants available from our Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. North Jersey has waited decades to improve our crumbling infrastructure. It’s time we get our share and get these much-needed projects moving forward.”