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Trump Admin Waives Jones Act to Allow Foreign Aid to Puerto Rico

Trump Admin Waives Jones Act to Allow Foreign Aid to Puerto Rico

The act will allow foreign ships to land in Puerto Rico ports.

President Donald Trump’s administration has finally waived the Jones Act, which will allow foreign ships to bring aid to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico.

The Jones Act has been enforced since its inception in 1920. It states that any goods transported by water into U.S. ports must come in on ships made in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens, have American crews.

From The Wall Street Journal:

On Thursday morning, the Trump administration and DHS announced that a waiver to the Jones Act, which was blocking foreign-flagged vessels from shipping relief supplies to Puerto Rico, had been issued. The reason was “in the interest of the nation’s defense,” according to DHS spokesman David Lapan. Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, ravaged the island last week, destroying its electrical grid and leaving it desperately short of food, clean water and fuel.

The Jones Act waiver, which is good for 10 days, will allow foreign-flagged ships, to bring aid to Puerto Rico from U.S. ports and from foreign ports. Lawmakers from Puerto Rico and the U.S. sought the request because aid can be delivered at a lower cost from other nations.

“This waiver will ensure that over the next 10 days, all options are available to move and distribute goods to the people of Puerto Rico. It is intended to ensure we have enough fuel and commodities to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of these devastating storms,” said Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke in a statement.

Hurricane Maria wiped out electricity on the entire island that houses 3.4 million people. The people have also been without clean water or phone service, making it hard for them to reach family members in the states.

The administration waved the law after Harvey hit Texas and Irma hit Florida so ships could bring in petroleum.

Puerto Rico Needs Help

Vital aid sits in 9,500 storage containers in San Juan because the island has a shortage of truck drivers to deliver it. Plus, the “devastated infrastructure” on the island makes it hard to move the aid to those who need it most. The lack of diesel fuel also means no fuel for trucks to move the aid if they can. Without phone service, officials cannot contact the truck drivers they do have.

The medical community is also lacking supplies and people. CNN interviewed Dr. María Rodriguez at the Concilio de Salud Integral de Loíza in the northeast part of the island. At the time of the interview, published today, the hospital only has six hours of diesel fuel left. The hospital provides healthcare to the poor, but they may have to shut down.

Emergency medicine physician Dr. Robert Fuller, who works at the University of Connecticut and International Medical Corp, arrived in Puerto Rico to help out. From CNN:

He sees plenty of good doctors and nurses on the island, so it’s not a matter of human resources. “It’s a matter of getting the medications and treatments to the people,” Fuller says. It’s also a matter of being able to move around and get services to people, which cannot happen without fuel.

In the shortest term, people with diabetes who don’t have access to the right food and medication will be most vulnerable, Fuller says. A week without insulin, which requires refrigeration and a needle, can lead to a coma, which in turn can lead to death, he says. People relying on dialysis may also be in trouble.

The children’s hospital in San Juan has received plenty of diesel fuel from other hospitals and personnel worked together to either discharge or transfer 45 sick children.

Rapper Pitbull donated his private plane to help transport cancer patients to the states.


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The logistical reality on the ground in Porto Rico is not T-rump’s fault.

But a 10 day waiver of the protectionist Jones Act is not to his credit, either.

It’s all just another play to the rubes.

What’s better is the deployment of military logistical units into the island. They can go lots of places a commercial truck cannot, by design.

    MattMusson in reply to Ragspierre. | September 28, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Several amphibious landing craft have already come to PR and unloaded and are going back for more supplies. Many ships like the Hospital ship that was dispatched could not dock in PR for many days because the deep water ports were out of commission or occupied.

    And yes, the Jones Act waiver was just to placate the libtards that were asking for it. There is no real need for foreign hulls because food and fuel supplies are already stacking up in the PR ports. The problem is getting those items into the interior.

    Arminius in reply to Ragspierre. | September 28, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    I was never a Trump supporter before but this latest attempt to manufacture a false Katrina narrative is probably the final straw into turning me into one.

    I am disgusted by the stupidity of what passes for conversation in this modern age. The WaPo speculates that it’s only because of Hillary’s tweet on the 24th that the USNS Comfort got underway on the 27th. This is not possible logistically. But it doesn’t f***ing stop them.

    At this point I need to thank my Marine Corps and Seabee friends who taught me to think in terms of latrines. Yes, it’s important to get the supplies in. But what goes in, at least in the form of food supplies, must come out. Sanitation is your friend, my friend.

    OK, send the USNS Comfort (T-AH-20). Where is she going to go? To a port that doesn’t work? She doesn’t even have her own helicopter detachment. She can handle helos, but under international conventions to actually embark them would be considered unlawful arming of these hospital ships, and mean they are no longer exempt from attack.

    It makes all kinds of sense you’d send PHIBRON-4 first. Combined the Kearsarge, Arlington, and Oak Hill have approximately the same medical capacity as the USNS Comfort. The Kearsarge alone is more capable than any dedicated hospital ship in the world other than our own. But they bring so much more. Including bulldozers, which tells me the mix of personnel they’re ferrying to the disaster area is not their normal mix (Duh!).

    As fare as the Jones act, I have mixed feelings. I have no idea what good it’s going to do for the people of Puerto Rico to just pile supplies up to rot on the pier. Again, Hoo f***ing Ray for the Kearsarge ESG who bring their own.

    And again for your viewing pleasure:

    “‘Taking Care of Business’ USS Guam”

    “Navy LSE during VERTREP”

    I hope you lawyer types understand that your very existence rests on some high school grad making sure all the tools are returned to the right place.

OleDirtyBarrister | September 28, 2017 at 11:46 am

It is peculiar and ironic that McCain and other members of the legislative branch, the branch with the authority to draft and pass laws to be presented to POTUS for execution, made demands upon the executive branch for executive action for relief. Congress could have easily crafted relief legislation.

What do the Congress critters believe they are being paid to do in D.C.?

Calm down, everyone. The Clinton Foundation is surely all over this. It’s what they do.

I think you are misunderstanding the Jones Act.
As I understand it, it has nothing to do with foreign cargoes delivering to US ports, with any crew, in any hull, or hull ownership. It has to do with US cargo picked up in US ports, delivered to other US ports, and was to protect US capability to at least meet US minimum needs and the need for a waiver means it has failed in that goal.

What a load. This excitement hinges on a gross misunderstanding of the Jones Act.

The Act does not keep foreign ships transporting aid—or anything else—out of Puerto Rico. It prevents them from picking up cargo in New York and delivering it to San Juan. That’s all.

A waiver does not affect supplies in the least, because oceanic shipping is not the bottleneck here. Port facilities (absolutely required for ships to break bulk and get the goods onto land), navigational aids (not optional when more ships try to pack into a busy port), road transport (trucks) … these are where the supply chain chokes. Adding more Liberian-registered ships with Spanish captains and Filipino crews will not help at all—unless you consider a possible slight decrease in shipping costs to be vital.

This is nothing but virtue signaling in its purest form—a prominent pretense at a solution which does nothing to address a real problem. And, of course, a chance for the MSM to attack the President for something (1) utterly irrelevant, and (2) the fault (if any) of Congress, not the Executive.

    tom swift in reply to tom swift. | September 28, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    It prevents them from picking up cargo in New York and delivering it to San Juan. That’s all.

    Sorry, poorly worded. The concept is “cabotage” and the Jones Act regulates it for sea transport, although the word can also involve air transport (or land, for that matter). It need not involve New York or San Juan specifically.

    Ragspierre in reply to tom swift. | September 28, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Oh, GOODIE…!!!

    My first chance of the day to fisk Tom with my sheep entrail bullwhip!

    First, Tom goes to some length to repeat what others have said. But HE’S the “authority”.


    BUT THEN he states the opposite of the truth: this IS virtue signaling of the most vacant kind…BY T-rump.

    This has NOTHING whatsoever to do with Congress.

    But, as I said (above), T-rump is bringing in military logistics units which, unlike the virtue-signaling WRT the Jones Act, WILL do some good in getting stuff to people who need it. Stuff now stacking up on the ports.

    That and nothing but a “Loyd’s Looper” is going to get into a US port, get loaded, and get into a Puerto Rican port within Prez Trump’s 10 day waiver.

The Jones Act was not keeping any ships out of Puerto Rico. The holdup has been certifying the harbors as being navigable. The Coast Guard has been busy marking channels and removing sunken vessels to allow entry into the available harbors. The biggest problem is that almost all of the cargo and tanker vessels require harbor anchorage in order to offload cargo. Until they could get into the harbors, they were stuck. Initially, most of the cargo came ashore through the use of naval landing and assault ships. As the harbors reopened, supply became less of a problem, as far as port deliveries are concerned. The current problem is inland delivery of materiel. The infrastructure, outside of the major cities in Puerto Rico, is second world level, at best. Many inland places are technically third world levels. They are serviced by horrible roadways and fragile bridges. As more military assets arrive, delivery of supplies will improve. But, all of this takes time.

Here is a pretty good overview of what is transpiring in Puerto Rico, without the hand wringing and pearl clutching.

Because Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income tax, I would have thought the money saved would have been invested in a hurricane-resistant infrastructure. Also, waiving the Jones Act should harm the Puerto Rican shipping industry.

I was wondering how long until the calls for independence for Puerto Rico would resurface. I did not have to wait long.

Would now be a good time, before we sink more of our cash into this lost cause?