A New Gig for John Porcari

    John D. Porcari, who had two tours as Maryland’s transportation secretary and was deputy U.S. transportation secretary during President Obama’s first term, has a new gig.

    The White House announced late last week that Porcari would 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 of the U.S. economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent 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.

    John D. Porcari. File photo.

    “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,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said in a statement. “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.”

    The White House said that Porcari would work closely with the U.S. Transportation Department and 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, federal officials said, and the 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.

    Porcari will work with stakeholders at the ports to address the backlog and associated delivery delays and product shortages being experienced by American consumers and businesses, the White House said.

    During his two terms as Maryland DOT secretary, from 1999 to 2003 and from 2006 to 2009, Porcari also served as chair of the Maryland Port Commission and had oversight over the Port of Baltimore.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.