White House waives Jones Act in response to Puerto Rico devastation

Last Updated Sep 28, 2017 8:45 AM EDT

The White House announced that it will be waiving the Jones Act as the island of Puerto Rico continues to suffer from the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. 

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Thursday morning that the act would be waived and “go into effect immediately.”

Shortly after, White House Homeland Security adviser Thom Bossert thanked Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello for his petitioning of the White House for a temporary waiver, and credited the work of Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke and FEMA Director Brock Long for their “seamless fuel delivery” to the island. 

The Department of Homeland Security was under pressure from members of Congress to waive the Jones Act, a law that dates back to 1920 in order to speed up the shipment of goods and commodities to Puerto Rico as it deals with a humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Maria.

The Jones Act requires that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be carried by ships built by Americans and operated by Americans. Under the law, foreign vessels that enter Puerto Rico are subject to taxes, fees and tariffs.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, sent a letter to DHS’ Duke on Tuesday urging that the law be waived and arguing that it should ultimately be repealed. McCain said that the emergency waivers are valuable in speeding up recovery efforts.

“I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening…

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