Trump Waives Pro-Union Shipping Regulations To Send Aid To Puerto Rico

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Helping the US island territory to get back on its feet quickly is an imperative. The Trump administration will waive federal restrictions on foreign ships' transportation of cargo to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

"The situation in Puerto Rico is much different", Moore said in the statement, adding that most of the humanitarian effort would be carried out with barges, which make up a large portion of the USA flagged cargo fleet. "And that is critical".

The Jones Act is not a short-term issue, but one ingredient in the longer-term issue of Puerto Rico's economy. "Our general counsel is evaluating whether members of Congress have standing to request such a waiver".

The act was quickly lifted to help Texas and Florida in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

"I have no jurisdiction over those ports", Cruz said.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Twitter Thursday that President Donald Trump has "authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico".

Supporters of the Jones Act, including ship builders, have said it supports American jobs, including ones in Puerto Rico and keeps shipping routes reliable. Drewry Maritime Research concluded in 2013 that US-built, Jones-compliant vessels cost about four times as much to build as comparable foreign ships.

This raises the cost of living on Puerto Rico, makes Puerto Rico an unattractive place to produce goods bound for the U.S. mainland, and has the freaky effect of putting Puerto Rico at a competitive disadvantage to other Caribbean islands as a destination for American tourists.

"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", Sen. McCain wrote in a letter to DHS Tuesday. "It is far past time to repeal it".

The administration had come under fire in part because it originally refused to waive the Jones Act for more than a week after Hurricane Maria, even though it had granted similar waivers amid Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Cargo ships are stuck in port waiting to be offloaded, but supplies have nowhere to go, The Wall Street Journal reported. Waivers must be based on whether or not the there are enough US ships to keep up with shipping needs, which DHS is saying there are. Defenders of the law insist it remains vital to national security, noting that it supports and ensures a vital US shipbuilding industry.

NBC reached out to DHS to clarify the status of a potential waiver for the Jones Act and what constitutes a formal request, but DHS has not yet responded.

Source: 
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