Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) reintroduced legislation (S.1032) designed to reform the U.S.-build requirement of the Jones Act.
This bill, similar to the one introduced by Brownback last summer, would allow foreign-built dry- and liquid-bulk oceangoing self-propelled ships over 1,000 tons to ply the U.S. Coastwise trade under U.S. flag. The U.S. ownership, manning and registration (flagging) requirements would remain in place.
The bill comes during a time of much activity and debate regarding Jones Act reform. Recently, former Maritime Administrator Warren Leback proposed opening a three-year window allowing Jones Act container ship operators to replace their aging fleets. This followed a proposal by the Maritime Administration to give American cargo preference operators a one-year window in which to re-flag foreign-built self-propelled ships. These preference operators obtain subsidized government rates to transport U.S. food aid abroad. And, just three weeks ago, a North Carolina consortium
of turket, broiler and hog producers cited the Jones Act as the primary reason they were forced to purchase 75,000 tons of Brazilian soymean, to be transported on a foreign-flag ship, as feed grain.
The bill follows the introduction by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) of the "Maritime Administration Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001," one of the provisions of which would implement the MARAD waiver proposal. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Commerce Committee Chair, Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), and ironically, Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a known proponent of the Jones Act.