White House lets Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico expire without renewal

The White House refused to renew a temporary waiver that had allowed foreign ships to carry rescue supplies to Puerto Rico for the last 10 days. This refusal contrasts with waiver renewals the White House had issued for hurricane-impacted Florida and Texas.
By Tracy Williams | Oct 11, 2017
A 10-day shipping waiver allowing foreign ships to bring goods from U.S. ports to Puerto Rico died Sunday and will not get an extension, a Department of Homeland Security official said Monday. Many U.S. lawmakers and Puerto Rican officials had been calling for an extension in order to expedite deliveries of fuel, food, and other relief supplies to the hurricane-ravaged island, whose residents still anticipate being without electricity and struggling to rebuild their neighborhoods for months.

The White House initially granted the waiver September 28. It temporarily rolled back the Jones Act, which stipulates that only U.S. ships can deliver from U.S. ports, for Puerto Rico.

Trump had granted similar Jones Act waivers for hurricane-impacted communities in Texas and Florida weeks earlier and had extended the waiver for both states. International ships were able to carry goods to Floridian and Texan communities for two whole weeks.

Trump himself acknowledged that transporting supplies across the Gulf of Mexico is a logistical challenge during a speech last month on his tax plan. He told his audience that it is taking longer to send supplies to Puerto Rico because it is "surrounded by water. Big ocean, big water."

Senate Republicans John McCain (R-Arizona) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a bill recently to make the waiver for Puerto Rico permanent. McCain personally for the bill placed on the Senate calendar under a fast-track procedure that allows it to get a floor vote without having to go through the usual committee approval process, but the bill has yet to be scheduled for a floor vote.

"Until we provide Puerto Rico with long-term relief, the Jones Act will continue to hinder much-needed efforts to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild from Hurricane Maria," McCain said.

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