Senate

McCain renews call to waive Jones Act for Puerto Rico relief

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in a letter Tuesday renewed his push for legislation that would waive the Jones Act, which puts trade restrictions in place that he says are stifling hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

The Arizona lawmaker urged acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to get rid of the rule, which limits American ports to receiving goods solely from vessels that are U.S. owned and operated.

"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 Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster," McCain wrote in the letter.

"We must treat this emergency relief with urgency every day that business owners are unable to recover their assets and account for lost business, the economy will retreat even further into devastation," he continued, while urging his "colleagues to support this bill and finally repeal the outdated and protectionist Jones Act."

In the last month, the DHS waived the Jones Act twice for national security reasons. But agency has said that waiving the rule would not help in this case due to damaged ports preventing ships from docking.

McCain argued to Duke that Hurricane Maria is another emergency in which the law should be waived so that recovery and relief efforts can carried on in a more effective and efficient way before a humanitarian crisis unfolds.

Other lawmakers like Rep. Nydia Vel zquez (D-N.Y.) have also urged for the rule to be put aside in the wake of the powerful storm.

Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm when it hit Puerto Rico, brought massive amounts of destruction and resulted in more than a dozen deaths.

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