Senator John McCain encouraged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to waive Jones Act for Puerto Rico on Tuesday. The Arizona senator believes the law is preventing the fast recovery of the U.S. territory ravaged by Hurricane Maria.
The Jones Act also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 regulates trade between the cities of the United States. The law requires goods to be shipped between U.S. ports must be carried exclusively by American-made ships. The owners and crews of those ships must be Americans.
In a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, Sen. McCain said the agency has authority to waive the Jones Act for national security concerns. The DHS waived the law for Texas and Florida last month. Both states were devastated by hurricanes Harvey & Irma, respectively.
Puerto Rico is facing humanitarian crisis
The Arizona senator is concerned that it did not waive Jones Act for the relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory is currently facing a humanitarian crisis because of Hurricane Maria.
Sen. McCain said, “It is unacceptable to force the people of Puerto Rico to pay at least twice as much for food, clean drinking water, supplies and infrastructure due to Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster.”
The Arizona senator emphasized, “These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions.” He added that it is imperative to provide emergency relief urgently.
According to Sen. McCain, the economy will “retreat even further to devastation” if business owners cannot recover their assents and account their losses.
McCain renews push to repeal Jones Act
Additionally, Sen. McCain asked the DHS to assess the impact of a long-term waiver or full repeal of the Jones Act in the recovery efforts of Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico.
He said now is the time to realize the devastating effect of the Jones Act. It is time to “implement a full repeal if this archaic and burdensome Act,” said Sen. McCain.
Furthermore, the Arizona senator said repealing the law will speed up recovery efforts in areas that need it most. A quick repeal of the Jones Act is critical because of the urgent needs of the hurricane-ravaged coastal communities.
For years, Sen. McCain has been pushing for the reform and repeal of the Jones Act. He first introduced a legislation to get rid of it in 2010. He introduced an amendment to the law in 2016. His proposed amendment would waive the requirements for oil and gasoline tankers.
In July this year, he again introduced a bill to repeal the Jones Act and promote free trade. Sen. McCain said the law is embodied by “protectionist mentality” that directly contradicts free trade and open market.