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Monday Morning eBriefing

President Biden Sign New OSRA into Law

Jun 20, 2022 by Sarah Geiger
President Biden on June 16 signed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA 22) into law. The House of Representatives on June 13 passed the Senate version (S.3580) of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA 22) by a vote of 369-42.

This is the first significant change to OSRA in 20 years.

In a nutshell, this bill revises requirements governing ocean shipping to increase the authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through an ocean transportation system that is competitive, efficient, and economical. For example, the bill requires the FMC to (1) investigate complaints about detention and demurrage charges (i.e., late fees) charged by common ocean carriers, (2) determine whether those charges are reasonable, and (3) order refunds for unreasonable charges.

The legislation also prohibits common ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, or ocean transportation intermediaries from unreasonably refusing cargo space when available or resorting to other unfair or unjustly discriminatory methods.

NCBFAA may view Transportation Counsel Venable’s analysis of OSRA 22 (as passed by the House June 13) here and a redline of the changes that will be effective after the President signs the bill into law here.

NCBCFAA Transportation Counsel Venable reviewed OSRA 2022 in detail and confirms the phrase “ocean common carrier” is added in the following parts of the Shipping Act:

  • 46 U.S.C. Section 41104(a)(10) by inserting “including with respect to vessel space accommodations provided by an ocean common carrier.”
  • 46 U.S.C. Section 41104(e), which provides a safe harbor for NVOCCs passing through invoices made by ocean common carriers to shippers. In such cases, the NVOCC is not liable for the charge and only the ocean common carrier will be subject to refunds or penalties.
  • 46 U.S.C. Section 41110, which requires ocean common carriers to provide new data elements to the FMC.
  • 46 U.S.C. 46106(b)(7) by requiring the FMC to report any concerning ocean common carrier practices to Congress in its annual report.

Outside of these revisions to the Shipping Act, NCBFAA Transportation Counsel Venable noted the bill also references ocean common carriers in:

  • Section 22 of OSRA 2022, which discusses review of potential discrimination against transportation of qualified hazmat by ocean common carriers.
  • Section 24 of OSRA 2022, which lists ocean carriers as one of the entities represented at a meeting for U.S. inland ports.

NCBFAA worked diligently to amend the original draft language that would have unfairly included NVOCCs in obligations that are clearly only applicable to VOCCs. Transportation Counsel Ashley Craig (Venable) worked with Transportation Committee Chair Melzie Wilson (Dunavant) and Vice Chair Rich Roche (Mohawk) to craft language that would protect NCBFAA members. Together with the Legislative Committee’s Laurie Arnold (JAS), Dave Corn (Comstock & Theakston) and Legislative Counsel Nicole Bivens Collinson (Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg), the association met regularly with Senate and House staff to arrive at acceptable language. 

“Ensuring legislation protects and supports NCBFAA members is part of our commitment to members,” Bivens Collinson said.

Learn more about the timeline of the legislation here.