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After criticism, Trump to waive Jones Act, allowing assistance to reach hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

Sameea Kamal, Ruben Vives, Melissa Etehad, Matt Pearce and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

WASHINGTON -- White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Thursday morning that President Donald Trump would waive the Jones Act, effective immediately, at the request of Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello, allowing assistance to reach the hurricane-ravaged U.S. territory.

The Jones Act is a 97-year-old maritime law that says shipping between ports in the United States must be done by U.S.-owned, U.S.-flagged, and U.S.-built ships operated by U.S. citizens.

The Jones Act entered the news this week after the federal government waived its restrictions to ease relief efforts for Texas and Florida after their recent hurricanes, but not for Puerto Rico, whose stranded residents are desperate for water, food, medicine and other basic supplies.

As of Wednesday, about 97 percent of the island's residents still lacked power, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said, and about half remained without running water.

Increasingly desperate local officials have demanded more help from the federal government, and faster delivery of what aid is coming.

"They're going very slowly, the aid isn't getting to people fast enough. We seem to be losing a lot of time in jurisdictional trifles," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said in an interview Wednesday.

"People are dying," she said. "We don't have time for that."

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