We should know that with oil leaking from the ocean's floor, the natural resources of the Gulf are being destroyed as we speak. We need every resource at our disposal to prevent further destruction. In my state of Texas, I have a constituent who would like to provide equipment to aid in the cleanup. His ship has a foreign flag, but he's unable to help because no waiver has been issued to the Jones Act in this particular crisis. There is precedent for waiving the Jones Act in disasters. It has been waived to speed up disaster response in the past, including a waiver that was issued in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago. It was done with an Executive Order. Without this key waiver, foreign vessels are prohibited from working with their American counterparts to skim the oil from the waters of the Gulf within three miles of shore. And, of course, that is where we desperately need to have the most help, to skim the oil before it reaches and damages our shores.

That is why next week I intend to introduce legislation that will waive the Jones Act for vessels whose sole intent is to assist in the cleanup of the Gulf of Mexico. We will ensure that these foreign ships will work under auspices of the Coast Guard. We will make sure that there is a clearinghouse for them but we should not be waiting to have three different federal agencies look at a Jones Act waiver request when we know what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico; we see the pictures every day. This waiver would be applied for a period of time that is necessary to respond to this oil spill and restore the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for this emergency. The federal response to this spill has been a little short of immediate. It's been a day late and a dollar short, and that is not acceptable, and it is time that Congress does what we can with sources that we have to urge the administration to act while it can to mitigate the damages that we know are already there.

It is time for us to be proactive. It is time for us to act. So I will look forward to having cosponsors. I am in the process of getting this bill in order now. I want to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Our states have a bipartisan delegation. And I want to help do everything possible. And if we can waive the Jones Act for this disaster, with all of the appropriate cautions that are necessary, and get those foreign ships that are ready to help our country, that have offered to help our country, to get into the three-mile limit before this oil does further damage to you are coast and to the wild life and the natural resources on our coast, we need to do it.

This is something that should have been done weeks ago. It wasn't done, so it is time for congress to step in, and I hope my colleagues will help us move this expeditiously and urge the Administration to do what is within their realm, even before congress acts. That would be my wish, if the President would issue an Executive Order, that would do it. But since he hasn't, and since weeks have passed, I think it's time for congress to take the reins and try to do everything that is within our power to mitigate the damage to the gulf.