Trump Says 'Shipping Industry' Doesn't Want Shipping Waiver For Puerto Rico

Katrina Barker
September 28, 2017

The Jones Act, which is part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, "provides that the transportation of merchandise between U.S. points is reserved for U.S. - built, owned, and documented vessels", according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Here's what to know about the law.

The government has given varying statements on the Jones Act in recent days.

"And they all support at least a temporary waiver of the Jones Act so that not only from USA maritime ships but from anybody that can bring help", he said.

The Jones Act requires that all cargo shipped to Puerto Rico is carried on ships built entirely in the United States, owned by a USA citizen, flying a us flag, and staffed by a majority-American crew.

Still, the American Maritime Partnership, a coalition representing the domestic shipping industry, argues that the act supports national defense needs and ensures a vibrant maritime industry. The U.S. Virgin Islands were granted a permanent legal waiver from the Jones Act by Congress, but not Puerto Rico.

"Puerto Rico's a very hard situation".

Michael Roberts, senior vice president and general counsel at Crowley, which benefits from Jones Act protections, said there is "a very steady pipeline of relief goods that is in process now and adding foreign-flag capacity and taking out US mariners who are doing this work would not help at all".

Why did Trump decline to waive it?

In the past, the U.S. government has approved temporary waivers to the law after storms-including Harvey and Irma-so foreign ships, which are either cheaper or more available, can speed supplies to affected areas. Even before the storm hit, shipping household and commercial goods to Puerto Rico cost roughly double what it did to nearby Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, where foreign vessels are free to dock.

Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, an office of Homeland Security, said in a statement on Tuesday that an agency assessment showed there was "sufficient capacity" of USA -flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico.

But critics of the Jones Act say that vessel availability isn't the issue. Republican Sen. John McCain has also called for the act to be scrapped. In that case, the US government deployed at least eight ships, and Tom Bossert, President Trump's homeland security adviser, described the effort as both "unprecedented" and "the largest flotilla operation in our nation's history", though more ships had been used in other similar operations in the past. "But we have a lot of shippers and. a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted, and we have a lot of ships out there right now".

"Now, more than ever, it is time to realize the devastating effect of this policy and implement a full repeal of this archaic and burdensome Act", he wrote.

On Wednesday, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said he expected Congress to help.

- National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman says he respects players' views on political and social issues and "people are going to have to decide what makes them comfortable".

Some residents also waited hours for gasoline and diesel to fuel their automobile tanks and power generators to light their homes.

"We have shipped massive amounts of food and water and supplies to Puerto Rico, and we are continuing to do it on an hourly basis", he added.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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