While a new president arrives, many questions will remain

With most everyone (assumingly) still recovering from election malaise, of one type or another, and the results of the Presidential election (seemingly) in and official, it is time to think about what may come next, specifically, in the form of a Biden Administration, effective January 2021, as it relates to all things logistics.

There will be a lot to sort through, and a lot of ground will be covered by the Biden transition team between now and then, but, given current events (see the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the slowly recovering economic recovery), there could very well be a pecking order, of sorts, as we get more clarity on priorities and position in the coming weeks and months.

One thing that is clear is that now, more than perhaps possibly ever, a new comprehensive federal surface transportation authorization is needed. Lost in the shuffle of the election’s home stretch was a one-year continuing resolution for the current authorization, known as the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act, which was signed into law near the end of President Obama’s second term.

Since that time, both sides of the aisle, in the form of the White House, Congress, and the Senate and respective Congressional committees, too, have made inroads on what they felt were the best paths forward, but none truly ever got out of the initial phases and got rolling. That needs to change and has needed to change for more than a while. Will we get there, at some point, over the next four years? Well, it was far too early to tell, but it is pretty clear there will be big focus on it. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business-focused groups surely are going to do whatever they can to get those in power to take definitive action on it, no doubt.

Another topic that is going to be closely watched is the state of global trade and tariffs between the United States and its allies and adversaries.

It is clear that tariffs, specifically the Section 301 tariffs implemented by President Trump on China had a notable impact on freight flows, to be sure, as well, as manufacturing, as well we nearshoring and outsourcing.

For freight flows, it led to a “pull-forward,” with companies moving large quantities of goods in to the U.S. earlier than normal, in order to avoid being “tariffed” or “taxed,” or however one wants to define it. Either way, it was a game changer of sorts, but with a new President coming in, it remains to be seen just exactly how, or in what ways, the tariff game will continue.

There are others, too, including the environment, and by extension, energy, including fossil fuel production and fracking, wind and solar energy, electric- and natural gas-powered vehicles, too.

And don’t forget about the record numbers of jobs lost during the pandemic. Yes, some have come back, but more work needs to be done, to get back to pre-pandemic levels. What is the plan for that?

Maybe parts of the answer relate to a big, new infrastructure deal, as well as the need for more truck drivers, which readers of this space know is not a new problem by any stretch.

These are just a few things we all should keep an eye on. There will be others, too, but it is a start. These things move quickly, and as things move along, we will learn more over the course of the coming days, weeks, and months.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman