McCain amendment would scuttle Jones Act

When the Senate reconvenes this week to continue its debate of the Keystone pipeline, they are set to consider an amendment that would gut American jobs and endanger our national security.

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainTrump: Illegal immigrants treated better than veterans Trump should apologize to heroic POWs McCain urges sports leagues to return 'paid patriotism' money MORE (R-Ariz.) has introduced an amendment to the Keystone Pipeline bill that would eliminate the U.S. construction requirements of the Jones Act. Enacted over ninety years ago, the Jones Act requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S. flag ships owned by U.S. citizens and constructed in the U.S.  

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McCain’s amendment would undermine our domestic maritime industry and threaten the more than 400,000 jobs it supports nationwide. After years of stagnation, the American maritime industry is investing a record amount in new ship construction with American shipyards building many modern, state of the art vessels. The production of these vessels provides stable, high-paying manufacturing jobs for American workers and contributes $36 billion to gross domestic product. This amendment would stifle that progress and the associated economic benefits.

In addition to promoting economic security, the Jones Act is an essential pillar of national and homeland security. A strong domestic shipyard base helps support strategic sealift requirement and Navy shipbuilding while ensuring that U.S. ports are free from foreign influence.  It also ensures we have the capacity and skilled workers needed to build state-of-the art ships should a national defense emergency arise. For these reasons, every Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense since Ronald Regan has supported the Jones Act and its requirements.

McCain’s amendment would change key provisions without so much as a committee hearing. A change of this magnitude should not be forced through without the participation of the U.S. maritime industry and the hardworking people who would be affected.

This amendment is misguided and has serious implications. It will severely undermine the domestic maritime industry and jeopardize hundreds of thousands of American jobs. For these reasons, the Senate should vote to oppose McCain’s amendment.

Sanchez has represented Southern California congressional districts since 2003.

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