January 24 2018

The law strangling Puerto Rico

January 24 2018, 01:57 | Van Peters

The law strangling Puerto Rico


Proponents of the Jones Act say that without it, the country would be forced to rely on cheaper worldwide ships operated by foreign workers and put American vessels in a more crowded and less efficient shipping environment. "In Texas, we can ship the trucks right out there". Critics say it is a protectionist law, and multiple studies say it has cost the Puerto Rican economy billions of dollars.

Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, pledged more congressional assistance. "We expect them to waive it", Rossello said. "Our island of Puerto Rico has been hit by the two most devastating hurricanes we've ever seen Irma and Maria". Recent presidents from both parties, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have touted it as crucial to national security as it reduces America's dependency on foreign-owned vessels. There's also the matter of a 100-year-old maritime law that prevents many ships from entering Puerto Rico's ports. "And that is critical". That's why a woman identified only as Jessica P. began a petition asking DHS to waive the Jones Act.

After it ended, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Brock Long, head of the FEMA, briefed reporters on the federal response.

"These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions", Sen. "Our general counsel is evaluating whether members of Congress have standing to request such a waiver". However, just hours later President Trump reiterated that the US has a lot of ship "out there" and that "a lot of people who are in the shipping industry don't want" the restrictions to be lifted. "You're looking at a clear and avoidable economic burden being placed on the people of Puerto Rico", says Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar Scott Lincicome.

"The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability", he said.

James said, "That's what makes me more sick than anything". As he was departing for IN, a reporter asked Mr. Trump why the Jones Act had not been waived for Puerto Rico, as it had been for Texas.

Next Tuesday, Ross and a crew of volunteers with the organization will take more than a hundred pallets of donations to Puerto Rico via a donated cargo barge.

In any case, it has been a harder job: The hurricane damage in Puerto Rico was virtually all-encompassing, especially given the island's relatively small size, throwing initial aid efforts into stark relief. A recent poll found that almost half of Americans did not know Puerto Ricans are United States citizens. Homeland did not immediately return a request for comment on the McCain letter.

The poll goes into that too, saying that 8 in 10 of Americans who know that Puerto Ricans are Americans support sending aid there, compared to the 4 out of 10 who support aid among people who were unaware of that. Many have argued that even in the absence of a full repeal of the Jones Act, it should at least be suspended temporarily to allow direct shipments to the island for the foreseeable future.

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. The officials explained that the ability for DHS to issue waivers, based on the law, is constrained.

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