Urge a 1-Year Suspension of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico
Update (10/9): The 10-day waiver of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico expired on Sunday, October 8th. However, the island needs more time to adequately import supplies and materials for their long recovery. Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The island’s 1.6 million residents have lost power and electricity and are quickly running out of food and clean water. Lines for gasoline stretch for miles, hospitals are destroyed, and cell reception is unreliable. It will take Puerto Rico years to recover from this disaster. Hampering Puerto Rico’s recovery is a 1920s shipping restriction, "The Jones Act," which requires all goods shipped between ports in the United States are carried by vessels built, owned and operated by Americans. In practice this means those in import-dependent Puerto Rico pay more than twice what neighboring islands pay for goods from the US mainland, including for food, clean water, and energy. Economists estimate that these restrictions cost the Puerto Rican economy hundreds of millions of dollars per year -- while these figures are heavy in normal times, they are crippling during disasters and disaster recovery. Senator John McCain has requested the suspension of The Jones Act, stating, “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 The Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster.” Jones Act relief would immediately reduce food and water costs, extend availability of affordable medication, and grant access to international oil markets necessary for restoring the island’s power grid. This is not the time to disadvantage the people of Puerto Rico in service of a WW1 era shipping regulation; if DHS won’t act, Congress should."