This week, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., led most of the Florida delegation in sending a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to rely more on the Sunshine State’s 15 ports to help with the supply chain problem.
Buchanan, who is increasingly generating buzz as the next chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee if the GOP takes control of the U.S. House next year, explained why he led the letter.
The Florida congressman insisted the Sunshine State could help as ports on the Pacific continue to experience problems.
“Recent reports state that almost 90 cargo ships were left idling off the Port of Long Beach or the Port of Los Angeles while waiting to offload their containers. At one point, this logjam led to 17-day delays for ships, further delaying the arrival of shipments to consumers,” Buchanan’s office noted. “In just the last two years, the state of Florida has invested nearly $1 billion in projects to increase seaport capacity and plans to spend an additional $200 million over the next several years to improve the state’s roadways to handle increased freight movements. Additionally, unlike other ports across the country, many of Florida’s ports have been functioning at full capacity 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week, for quite some time.”
U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Kat Cammack, R-Fla., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Neal Dunn, R-Fla., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Bill Posey, R-Fla., John Rutherford, R-Fla., Greg Steube, R-Fla., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., and Dan Webster, R-Fla., also signed the letter.
Florida Ports Council President and CEO Mike Rubin weighed in on the letter.
“The leadership and bipartisan efforts of Florida’s congressional delegation is further demonstration that Florida’s seaports are open for business, and are a key solution in helping to alleviate the nation’s supply chain challenge,” Rubin said. “Special thanks to Congressman Vern Buchanan and Florida’s congressional delegation for his leadership on this important issue”.”
Back in October, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that Florida seaports have open capacity and can meet holiday demand, while other seaports across the country are struggling to keep up.
The letter Buchanan led was as follows:
As members of the Florida congressional delegation representing our state’s world-class network of 15 deepwater seaports, we stand ready to work with you and your administration to help provide important and much-needed alternatives to congested shipping routes around the country.
In successfully moving over 100 million tons of cargo and millions of cruise passengers annually, Florida’s seaports currently support a vast array of global commercial industries. Working together with the federal government, Florida’s seaports can save consumers money, support American jobs, grow our economy and offer near-term relief for our nation’s current supply chain bottleneck affecting many aspects of our daily lives.
According to recent news reports, a back-up of almost 90 cargo ships waiting to enter either the Port of Long Beach or the Port of Los Angeles extended south almost to San Diego. This logjam meant cargo ships were waiting, on average, almost 17 days just to off-load their containers. We believe that our seaports are underutilized assets that can help reduce, if not eliminate, the delays plaguing our domestic supply chain and are asking you to work with us to help make this a reality.
In Florida, there are currently no delays at our ports in large part because many of them have been operating 24 hours-a-day for quite some time, while other ports around the country are just now announcing around-the-clock operations. With the holiday season upon us and the United States struggling to solve crippling congestion in our supply chain, our 15 ports and unique geographical location offer a more efficient alternative to certain West Coast ports.
Since 2019, the State of Florida has invested nearly $1 billion in capacity-building projects for our ports and plans to spend $200 million over the next few years to further enhance the state’s inland freight-handling capacity. Furthermore, our ports have matched these investments and are committed to using additional resources to expand their services to meet demand. Consequently, our transportation infrastructure can handle increased freight traffic immediately and that capacity will only continue to grow.
Today, our ports stand ready to help alleviate current systemic freight backlogs all over the country and are well-equipped to handle additional capacity. In short, Florida is open for business.
Again, we welcome the opportunity to work with your administration to help take further advantage of Florida’s 15 deepwater seaports and to serve as an important part of the solution to the ongoing supply chain crisis.
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