President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has designated Commissioner Daniel B. Maffei as the Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, replacing Michael A. Khouri. The designation was made on March 29, 2021. “I am grateful and humbled by the confidence President Biden has placed in me by appointing me Chairman at such a critical time for our Nation’s supply chain. Due to the effects of COVID-19 and an unprecedented import boom, we are dealing with serious challenges to America’s international ocean transportation system – challenges that the FMC has a vital role in addressing, both on its own as an independent agency and in cooperation with other agencies," Chairman Maffei said. In an interview with American Shipper, Chairman Maffei said the most concerning to them at the FMC are the inabilities of exporters to have full access to ships. "The congestion that is occurring is unfortunately unavoidable with this kind of stress on the system. We are concerned about abuses here and there that are real problems — looking at all these things to see where we can make a difference,” he said. Another concern that Chairman Maffei has is the insufficient access of maritime workers to vaccinations, personal protective equipment, and rapid testing. As such, Chairman Maffei and Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel wrote to President Biden earlier this year to urge the prioritization of maritime workers for access to these items. Last month, they also sent letters to the Governors of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington, urging them to do the same to protect the Nation’s supply chain. An issue that is also on Chairman Maffei's mind is "the startling imbalance between imports and exports." In his Keynote Address at the Sixth Biennial Marine Transportation System Innovation Science and Technology Conference in mid-March, Chairman Maffei noted that even while record numbers of containers full of furniture, electronics, and other consumer goods mainly made in Asia are coming into the U.S., American farmers are finding it difficult to get hold of containers and cargo space to export their products. "The main reason is that the carrier operators make so much more money on imports than exports that they often see it as more profitable to load a ship up with empties and get it back to Asia ASAP. To me, this is an economic imbalance that new technology should address – finding ways to get farm products and other exports into containers and on ships so efficiently that carriers can’t help but bring them to our export markets." Chairman Maffei is a native of New York and was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms. His previous professional experience includes serving in the Department of Commerce during the Obama Administration, and earlier in his career, working as a Capitol Hill aide and as a broadcast reporter. Chairman Maffei is married and has one daughter. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University and he earned master’s degrees from Columbia and Harvard Universities.
"I want to sincerely thank Chairman Michael Khouri for his years of diligent service to the FMC and to the country. He and I sometimes have policy differences but, as Chairman, he was inclusive of all the Commissioners in making important decisions and worked collaboratively with stakeholders in the ocean transportation system to reach consensus solutions. I will seek his advice as a fellow Commissioner and friend. I also hope to maintain my close working relationships with Commissioners Dye, Sola, and Bentzel, all of whom I deeply respect. Finally, I look forward to working in a new role with one of the most qualified and dedicated staff of civil service professionals in the federal government,” Chairman Maffei said.