In a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing today, Vice Chair Sharice Davids heard from trucking, rail, port, and logistics executives about current supply chain issues. Davids focused on long-term workforce and manufacturing solutions, highlighting her bill to introduce more women to the trucking workforce, as they currently make up just 24% of all transportation and warehouse jobs. She also recently announced a grant to Johnson County Community College that will provide scholarships to veterans to complete their commercial driver's license training and enter the trucking industry.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 80% of businesses experienced a disruption in their supply chain. Complex factors from labor market disruptions to production bottlenecks and shipping and transportation barriers continue to contribute to harmful shortages. The bipartisan infrastructure bill Davids voted to pass includes hundreds of billions of dollars that will strengthen American supply chain networks long term, including $27.75 billion in competitive grant programs that fund highway and intermodal freight improvements as well as port infrastructure projects. Davids also introduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act to expand and promote trucking industry opportunities to women, ensuring a resilient workforce for domestic supply chain needs.
"I've heard the supply chain problems we're experiencing now described as a chain of dominoes falling into each other. But I think there's an opportunity here to boost American industry and labor while combating rising costs long-term," said Davids. "We've been dependent on materials made in other countries for far too long, and I think it's important that we use this as a wake-up call to invest in our economy, supply chains, and workforce, so we can lower costs for working folks and avoid this supply chain crunch happening again in the future. We can't just reset our dominoes -- we need to stop the chain reaction before it even begins."
Davids has worked tirelessly to secure our domestic supply chain, lower costs for consumers, and ensure that small businesses continue to serve as the heart of our community. In a House Small Business Committee hearing in October, she highlighted the impact of global supply chain challenges on small businesses, particularly in the Kansas City region, saying: "Today, our small businesses are still faced with extremely high shipping costs and delays that are setting them back. And frankly, we heard this earlier too, this has been an issue since even before the pandemic. It demonstrates that we've been dependent on a pretty precarious supply chains for far too long."
Davids also introduced the SUPPLIES Act, inspired by the story of a local manufacturer in Lenexa, to promote manufacturing of personal protective and medical equipment at small and medium manufacturers here at home. Additionally, she secured several provisions to support small manufacturers in the House's budget package earlier this year and has advocated for bringing critical semiconductor supply chains home.