Trump Waives Jones Act to Speed Up Aid Shipments to Puerto Rico

Trump Waives Jones Act to Speed Up Aid Shipments to Puerto Rico

The Trump administration argued that waiving the Jones Act would not help, because the island's main impediment to shipping is damaged ports.

The Jones Act requires items shipped between US ports to be on American-flagged vessels with American crews, which has made the cost of receiving supplies unbearably high for the island commonwealth. They say Puerto Ricans, who depend on imports, absorb extra shipping costs for items that could be shipped directly from American ports to Puerto Rico with readily available foreign crews, but instead must be delivered by US flagged vessels.

The Department of Homeland Security initially said the law didn't need to be waived because most humanitarian relief is delivered by us ships. The department said then that there were sufficient ships available to meet the need. "We have a lot of shippers", Trump told reporters Wednesday, according to the Huffington Post.

CNN has reached out to the White House but a request for comment was not immediately returned.

"I am very concerned by the Department's decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria", McCain wrote to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke this week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports it has deployed six search and rescue task forces in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, in a news release.

President Donald Trump attacked Democrats, the news media, and the mayor of San Juan Saturday as Puerto Rico struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria. This state could wind up receiving thousands of Puerto Ricans - U.S. citizens - fleeing the American territory, and Gov. Rick Scott visited the island this week and discussed his trip with Trump on Friday.

The stepped-up response includes the deployment of the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship that has responded to other natural disasters.

Parts of the Puerto Rico were already hurting after Hurricane Irma skirted the island earlier in September.

Republican lawmakers have also said the Jones Act should be lifted for Puerto Rico, including Sens.

Trump and his advisers, meanwhile, defended the administration's response to the devastation on the island, which was hit by Hurricane Maria Sept. 20 with many people left desperate for power, food and other supplies.

As worldwide trade expert Scott Miller explains: "A foreign relief shipment to Puerto Rico, they have two choices". "Now Congress must repeal this law to aid long-term recovery".