The White House on Friday announced that John D. Porcari will be the Port Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.
The Task Force was established in June to address supply and demand mismatches that emerged in several sectors as the economy reawakened following the Administration’s historic vaccination and economic relief efforts.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg leads the Task Force focus on ports and trucking issues. The Task Force’s leadership also includes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on food and agriculture and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on homebuilding and semiconductors.
“The strength of the U.S. economic recovery has tested the near-term capacity of our supply chains, and the Administration is operating on all fronts to ease bottlenecks and facilitate the flow of goods across the country,” said NEC Director Brian Deese. “Our country’s ports are the gateways for getting goods to market, which makes the appointment of John Porcari as Ports Envoy an especially important step forward in alleviating these disruptions that are impacting consumers, workers, and businesses alike.”
Since the launch of the Task Force, Secretary Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation have been engaged in extensive outreach and engagement with port stakeholders including virtual round table held in July with representatives of all aspects of the ports’ supply chain. Out of this work, it has become clear that the challenges at our ports, some of which have existed for years, require dedicated focus by experienced, senior leadership to drive toward outcomes that will reduce congestion, improve operations and set us on a sustainable path for the future. John Porcari is uniquely qualified to take on this role.
Envoy Porcari will work closely with Secretary Buttigieg and his team at the Department of Transportation as well as the National Economic Council to address the congestion at U.S. ports. Disruptions in global shipping and rapid shifts in demand have led the cost of shipping containers between China and the West Coast to grow more than 90% compared to 2019. This congestion is being felt particularly acutely at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle the largest share of containerized cargo moving through U.S. ports. Port workers and terminals have handled containerized cargo volumes that rose 40% in the first half of this year compared to the same time last year. Envoy Porcari will work with these stakeholder and others at the ports to address the backlog and associated delivery delays and product shortages being experienced by American consumers and businesses.
In addition, to Porcari’s work, the Biden Administration has negotiated an historic $17 billion in investments in port infrastructure as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. The funding would help address congestion and supply chains over time by investing in repair and maintenance backlogs and reduce congestion and emissions near ports.
John D. Porcari is a nationally recognized public and private sector infrastructure leader, who has delivered some of America’s most challenging projects and driven the adoption of equitable, community-serving infrastructure policies and projects at the local, state and federal levels.
As Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Transportation in the Obama-Biden administration (2009-2014), Porcari was directly involved in overseeing port, intermodal, maritime policy and maritime-related competitive grant programs throughout the United States.
In a previous role, serving twice as Secretary of Transportation for the State of Maryland and Chairman of the Maryland Port Commission (1999-2003 and 2006-2009), Porcari initiated a strategic plan for the Port of Baltimore that built it into the largest ro/ro (roll on/roll off) port in the nation, exporting construction and agricultural machinery from the Midwest to the world and growing the port into one of the nation’s top ten in terms of both dollar value and tonnage.
Under Porcari’s leadership, the Port of Baltimore also entered into a pioneering public-private partnership to expand its Seagirt container terminal, adding a fourth, 50-foot container berth and state of the art cranes to accommodate the newest super-post-panamax container vessels. This 50-year, $1.3 billion dollar P3, with the strong support of labor, has become a national model.