Ortiz Renews Call to Repeal Jones Act to Help Puerto Rico Recovery Efforts
Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz (D-Kings) renewed his call for Congress to repeal the Jones Act to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. Earlier this month, Ortiz introduced a resolution in the Assembly asking the U.S. Congress to repeal the Jones Act, a century old law that requires all goods ferried between American ports to be carried on ships built, owned and operated by Americans. The law has made it difficult and twice as expensive to ship supplies from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from foreign ports. A ten-day Jones Act waiver expired in October and the Trump Administration has done little to improve the situation.
Ortiz, working with state legislators from across the nation, is stepping up efforts to convince Congress to act. In Washington, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has introduced S.1894 to exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act. Senator McCain introduced the bill using Rule XIV, a procedural tactic that would permit him to bypass committee consideration and ask that the bill be considered any time while the Senate is in session. Ortiz believes that time is of the essence and that Congress must act quickly. Legislation is also pending in the U.S. House of Representatives to waive the Jones Act for five years.
“With a majority of Puerto Ricans still without electricity and in need of home and medical supplies, we can’t let antiquated laws stand in the way of helping our friends and families on Puerto Rico. The Jones Act must not hamper our efforts,” said Ortiz.