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Suspension of Jones Act has done little to help Puerto Rico get supplies

Alex Daugherty, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Weather News

Some conservative lawmakers like Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are also pushing to repeal the Jones Act repeal on the grounds that the law stifles economic competitiveness.

"You've got folks on the left and the right, Democratic Party and Republican Party, all piling onto the Jones Act," said Brian Schoeneman, political director for the Seafarers International Union.

But politicians in Florida are beneficiaries of the law, putting them in a difficult position as they try to advocate for Puerto Rico's recovery without harming the domestic shipping industry.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee and a longtime supporter of the Jones Act. He deflected questions from Puerto Rican business leaders Friday after they pressed him about extending Puerto Rico's Jones Act waiver.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who said last week that the Jones Act should be waived for Puerto Rico "as it has been for every major storm since Katrina," did not respond to a request for comment on whether he supports an extension of the waiver.

The Trump administration also issued Jones Act waivers in September after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The Department of Homeland Security said nine ships completed their journeys under those two waivers and that one ship has notified Homeland Security but has not yet completed delivery.

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(Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.)

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