McCain: US should scrap shipping restrictions on storm-ravaged Puerto Rico

Jerome Frank
September 28, 2017

After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico last Wednesday, President Donald Trump made only one tweet - and it was fewer than 100 characters long - about the tragedy, until Monday night, five days after the island of 3 million Americans plunged onto the brink of the Western Hemisphere's deepest humanitarian crisis in years. Yet the Trump administration has refused to waive the Jones Act, a 1917 law that is making it harder for ships to provide that aid. "And we have a lot of ships out there right now". Thomas LaCrosse, the Pentagon's director of defense support to civil authorities, said USA officials discussed sending the Comfort to Puerto Rico over the weekend, but ultimately decided not to because ports were not ready to handle a ship that large after the storm. "Do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico", Anthony tweeted Monday evening. "UnitedforPuertoRico.com to help Puerto Rico rebuild and come out of these storms stronger than ever". In that case, the US government deployed at least eight ships, and Tom Bossert, President Trump's homeland security adviser, described the effort as both "unprecedented" and "the largest flotilla operation in our nation's history", though more ships had been used in other similar operations in the past. Republican Sen. John McCain has also called for the act to be scrapped.

"We expect them to waive it", Rossello said in an interview with CNN.

Anthony is just one of many celebrities who are joining the relief effort to help Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. "And that is critical".

"As Members of Congress, we believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that the Federal Government promote the economic development of every community across the country", they continued.

"We are considering the underlying issues and are evaluating whether a waiver should be issued", a senior Homeland Security official told reporters in a teleconference.

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He said he has been speaking with members of Congress from both parties who have supported an emergency waiver. "The federal response has been anything but slow", said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. "With Puerto Rico, because of this distraction, there is maybe the perception that he hasn't been on top of the situation", said presidential historian Thomas Alan Schwartz. Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, told Reuters that there were plenty of American vessels available to ship goods to Puerto Rico, and that because ports had been damaged, "The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability".

James said, "That's what makes me more sick than anything".

A waiver had been granted for two weeks earlier this month after the Defense Department requested that one be issued following Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas.

Anthony's parents are both from Puerto Rico, while he was born in NY. In his tweets, Trump highlighted Puerto Rico's long-running debt problems and antiquated electrical grid. 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 a letter to DHS Tuesday.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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