Trump Waives Jones Act for Puerto Rico Relief
President Trump has waived shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico on Thursday at request of the island's governor Ricardo Rosselló and after an outcry from Congress about the scarcity of fuel, food and emergency supplies following Hurricane Maria.
"At @ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted this morning.
The Jones Act – which limits shipping between U.S. ports exclusively to U.S. flagged vessels – has been waived occasionally in order to allow the use of less costly, tax free or more readily available foreign-flagged vessels in the wake of major storms, such as in the case of recent hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
The Trump administration had said earlier this week that there was no need to waive the Jones Act to Puerto Rico, because it would do nothing to address the island’s main impediment to shipping, damaged ports.
On Wednesday, Trump suggested again that he would not waive the restriction. “We have a lot of shippers and … a lot of people who work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“What we are seeing clearly on the ground is thousands of cargo containers piling up at the port of San Juan, filled with essential goods that the Puerto Rican people desperately need, but not nearly enough trucks and clear roads to distribute the goods. So, the problem at the port is a lack of trucks and delivery routes, not a lack of vessels,” Thomas Allegretti, Chairman of the American Maritime Partnership, said in a statement issued Wednesday. “The President was right when he said that we have a lot of ships out there right now. Much needed cargo has been delivered to the port, and an armada of U.S. and foreign vessels continues to arrive.”