JONES ACT – THE SHOT ACROSS THE BOW

On October 9, 2017, the following Associated Press article was published in newsprint
from LA to New York, from Miami to Seattle, and from San Juan to Pearl Harbor, to Juneau.

The American Merchant Marine Veterans organization diligently works to preserve the Jones Act and its principles of implementation. For years, the Board of Directors and the Membership have consistently passed resolutions of Jones Act support at our National Conventions.

The following article, posted by the Associated Press is a warning that there (however, well meaning) are dangerous elements in our country who work to undermine our national security. In addition, there were some political interests who aggressively and shamelessly capitalized on the Puerto Rican crisis and the desperation of the island’s leaders and residents. This seeded media coverage and political debate with a fraudulent narrative that the Jones Act was to blame for essential supplies not reaching the people who needed them most.

The Jones Act, (originally passed by Congress in 1920 and then updated in 1936) constitutes the nucleus for our international U.S. Flag fleet. (For those who would like to read the full 1936  — Merchant Marine Act, 1936, CLICK HERE)  These vessels are U.S.-built, -owned and –crewed (volunteer-integrated-civilian). The Jones Act ensures that our country has U.S. merchant mariners available to man U.S. military support vessels. Many of the intercoastal trade ships can be diverted to international use. These ships would deliver materials to our allies and U.S. troops when our National interests are threatened. This fleet of ships also serves as a nucleus for maintaining a base force of trained crew members that can be used to support less trained and less experienced seaman – when necessary to expand the size of our U.S. Flag fleet of ships.        

The Associated Press Article is also an attack on our basic American patriotic enthusiasm – The AMMV opposes foreign flag ships cruising our inland waters and rivers in Puerto Rico and across our United States.

By MATTHEW DALY, ASSOCIATED PRESS ; WASHINGTON — Oct 9, 2017, 5:48 PM ET

Republicans and Democrats in Congress are pushing to exempt Puerto Rico from a federal law that prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between U.S. ports. President Donald Trump temporarily waived the Jones Act last month amid criticism that the once-obscure law hindered relief efforts to in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

The 10-day waiver expired on Sunday night and was not renewed. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said an extension was not needed to support relief efforts on the island, adding that there’s “an ample supply” of U.S.-flagged vessels to ensure cargo reaches Puerto Rico.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Monday that the expiration of the Jones Act waiver added renewed urgency to his push to permanently exempt Puerto Rico from what he called an “archaic and burdensome law.”

“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,” he said.

Rep. Nydia Vel?zquez, D-N.Y., said the temporary waiver should be extended for at least a year while Congress debates a permanent exemption for Puerto Rico.

“Significant numbers of Puerto Ricans remain displaced and still lack food, drinking water and electricity,” she wrote in a letter to Trump. “If the Jones Act is reinstated, building supplies will cost significantly more in Puerto Rico, compared to costs on the mainland. This will serve only to slow Puerto Rico’s long-term recovery.”

The Trump administration initially said a waiver was not needed because there were enough U.S.-flagged ships available to ferry goods to Puerto Rico. Delays in getting relief supplies to Puerto Rico occurred because of bottlenecks that resulted from the island’s damaged ports and blocked roads, not a lack of ships, officials said.

Even so, Trump waived Jones Act restrictions on Sept. 28, just as he had done to help ease fuel shortages in the Southeast following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called the Jones Act “incredibly important to our country’s economy and to the maritime industry,” which she said supports nearly 500,000 jobs and is responsible for more than $92 billion in annual gross economic output.

In Washington state, the Jones Act supports more than 16,000, mostly unionized jobs, Jayapal said. “Without these jobs, our economy would suffer tremendously,” she said.

“To be clear, everywhere in the country where we have Jones Act jobs, they are better jobs, better wages and a better future for our Americans across the country,” Jayapal said last week in a speech on the House floor.

—End of Article—

Use this link to record a position asking Congress not to repeal or revise the Jones Act.
NOTE: While on the NAVY LEAGUE site, look on the right side-bar for the heading “Support WWII Merchant Marine Veterans!” . Click on this title to send a notice to your Congressperson requesting that they Co-Sign HR-154 which recognizes our WWII Merchant Marine Veterans.
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