President Trump is working quickly to return power to the 3.4 million Americans recovering from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
President Trump has waived the Jones Act, allowing Puerto Rico to import more fuel and emergency supplies as the island recovers from the devastation wrought by the one-two punch of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello had personally requested President Trump waive the law. Under the Jones Act, only American flagged shipping vessels are permitted to trade in Puerto Rico, USA Today reports.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the temporary end of the Jones Act on Twitter, writing, “At
@ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act to be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately.” The Puerto Rican governor replied simply, “Thank you @POTUS.”
Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, says she received a letter from Gov. Rossello requesting the Jones Act be waived to help the island recover from the storm by purchasing much-needed fuel, food, and supplies. The Jones Act will not be in effect for 10 days and will cover all goods.
“It is intended to ensure we have enough fuel and commodities to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of these devastating storms,” explained Duke.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act, was originally enacted to promote the domestic shipping industry. Only American shipping vessels are permitted to ferry goods across American ports. However, the restrictions on trade have caused shipping prices to increase in Puerto Rico as the island territory is dependant on maritime shipping. American ships are saved from competing with foreign shipping vessels, allowing them to charge more for their services.
President Trump waived the Jones Act between September 8 through September 22 after Hurricane Irma to help Texas and Louisiana accept emergency supplies from foreign-flagged vessels and speed their recovery efforts, but it only included Puerto Rico for petroleum products.
The Jones Act can only be waived in the interest of national defense. After Hurricane Irma made landfall, the Department of Defense called on President Trump to waive the Jones Act on September 8. Any decision to waive the Jones Act must be approved by Customs and Border Protection.
Yesterday, President Trump told reporters that he was considering waiving the Jones Act, but was facing major pushback from the American shipping industry.
President Trump modifies shipping laws to get aide to Puerto Rico. Are we doing enough to help?
“Well, we’re thinking about that, 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,” explained President Trump. “And I will tell you the Governor was very generous yesterday with some statements and so was the mayor of San Juan; very, very generous with their statements.”
Customs and Border Protection originally denied the request to waive the Jones Act, USA Today reports, claiming there is a “sufficient capacity” of American vessels available. They were forced to reverse the decision due to pressure from the President and the American people.
This serves as another piece of evidence that President Trump is looking out for the American people. It is a fact that even the most caustic on the Left cannot deny.