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Trump Waives Jones Act in Order to Ship Supplies to Puerto Rico
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An aerial view of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post.

Summary: The White House will waive the Jones Act in order to get affordable supplies to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

President Donald Trump has authorized that the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico, which is in significant trouble because of Hurricane Maria. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that Trump made the call after a request from Puerto Rico Governor, Ricardo Rossello.

  
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The Jones Act, also known as The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, is a federal law that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and at U.S. ports. Essentially, the law creates added expenses to any suppliers who do not use American ships. The White House has called for the law to be waived in order for supplies to be easily sent to the island, which has become increasingly desperate.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said that the waiver will cover all products shipped to Puerto Rico and will be in effect for 10 days. In addition to food, water, and fuel, the waiver will also allow the bringing in of equipment to repair infrastructure and restore emergency services.

DHS spokesperson David Lapan told CNN that the waiver can be extended if needed.

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The Jones Act was created to protect American shipbuilders by limiting shipping from foreign vessels, but it also had the consequence of making it twice as expensive to ship goods from the U.S. mainland to its territory, Puerto Rico.

The mayor of San Juan told CNN that lifting the Jones Act was necessary for Puerto Rico to rebuild.



“It is an act of justice. It will allow Puerto Ricans to rebuild and to have a cost of living that really frankly is affordable,” Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, said.

The temporary lift of The Jones Act came after several congressmen such as Senator John McCain urged Trump to grant the waiver.

“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,” McCain said.

The decision was made by Duke and came after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that this was a matter of national security, according to The New York Times. 

Since the waiver, Puerto Rican officials said that the island has already been receiving necessities such as fuel and food. Locals have reportedly started lining up at grocery stores, banks, and gas stations for supplies, but some have had to go home empty-handed. Two million liters of water have been delivered as well as one million meals. More water and food is expected to arrive to the island which has no working water or power.

Governor Rosello said that 689 gas stations are now open, and he said that more are expected to open later.

The last time the Jones Act was lifted was after Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

What do you think of The Jones Act? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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