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Democrats Bash the Pro-Union Jones Act

Democrats Bash the Pro-Union Jones Act”

The move is meant to boost the delivery of much-needed relief supplies after Hurricane Maria battered the USA territory last week.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Twitter Thursday that Trump has authorized a waiver for the US territory for a little-known federal law that prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between USA ports.

This spring, the Trump administration sided with the oil industry in withdrawing an Obama-era proposal that required companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to use more USA ships and crews.

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.

The law applies to all US ports and has been a frequent source of tension between the USA maritime industry and its customers.

The Jones Act is an obscure federal law from 1920 which prohibits foreign-flagged ships shuttling goods between U.S. ports.

Since Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, it falls under the Jones Act and resources being sent in from other USA ports have to be carried on US ships.

As Puerto Rico struggles with a lack of fuel, water and medical supplies following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, it is pressing the Trump administration to lift a prohibition on foreign ships delivering supplies from the US mainland. When the Homeland Security Department earlier this week declined to issue a similar waiver for Puerto Rico, it said port capacity was the bigger obstacle.

The Jones Act also hampered clean-up efforts after the BP oil spill disaster in 2010.

"The situation that we have in Puerto Rico is devastating, it's unprecedented, it's terrible".

Critics of the act had said that Trump, who temporarily waived the act in Texas and Florida after storms hit, cared more about a few USA shippers than he did about 3.4 million people living in Puerto Rico.

But cutting out foreign competition has driven up the cost of carrying cargo between US ports. Furthermore, there is lack of fuel on the island and so there are a limited number of trucks available to move the goods around.

Gov. Rossello, who has been praising President Trump for his response to Hurricane Maria, responded to the waiver on Twitter.

"It's very tough, because it's an island", he said. "In Texas, we can ship the trucks right out there".

"'Boricuas from New Jersey Para Puerto Rico' is what we're calling it". But the difference is, this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean. "It's about ensuring that our country maintains a strong manufacturing base with good well-paying jobs".

In normal times, critics say, it raises the cost of goods, because Jones Act ships are scarcer and more expensive than foreign carriers.

Critics of the Jones Act say the lack of competition with foreign shippers makes any shipment from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico 30 percent more expensive than it would be from a foreign port.

At @ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. "We are USA citizens".

On Wednesday, Rubio told CBS that he had staff in Puerto Rico who met with local officials and expressed that "there's a growing amount of frustration".



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