Trump Administration Waives Shipping Restriction For Puerto Rico

Felix Ortiz Delgado examines the ruined nursery where he works as a foreman in Yabucoa Puerto Rico on Sunday

President Donald Trump's advisers are sticking up for the response to Hurricane Maria and the devastation in Puerto Rico.

Both Republicans and Democrats urged the President to waive the 1920 Jones Act, an obscure law which requires all goods carried between United States ports to be transferred on USA ships, saying it could help get desperately needed aid to the island after it was battered by Hurricane Maria.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision in a Twitter message.

Marco Rubio urged President Donald Trump to put the US military in charge of recovery efforts on the island.

But the American Maritime Partnership, which represents more than 400 USA shipping companies, said a waiver would hinder relief efforts.

The new developments come as Florida Governor Rick Scott is set to meet with Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello to talk about Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

Delivering supplies throughout the island is still a challenge, and Puerto Rico's infrastructure remains severely damaged.

During a briefing, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) said she found the conditions "shocking" when she visited the island on Friday.


The Jones Act limits shipping between coasts to USA -flagged vessels.

McCain sent a letter to the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, on Tuesday arguing the Jones Act should be suspended for good.

Most of the Caribbean island's 3.4 million people also are without electricity.

In Washington, some politicians said the Jones Act waiver should last longer or that the law should be completely repealed. Now foreign-flagged vessels also will be able to move shipments from the US mainland to Puerto Rico and between ports there.

Waiving restrictions on foreign vessels that carry cargo to Puerto Rico "could overwhelm the system, creating unnecessary backlogs and causing confusion on the distribution of critical supplies throughout the island,"' said Thomas Allegretti, the group's chairman.

Ryan says, "We will quickly act on that request".

Military personnel are playing a sizeable role. Puerto Rico's governor and other USA officials had argued that a waiver would expedite supplies to the island. Large numbers of generators are now on Island. "You have to remember that not only did Irma come through and create quite a bit of damage and destruction that we were working to fix, but Maria was. one of the strongest storms that Puerto Rico's seen since the 20's and let's face it, the infrastructure is weak and there were no building codes and so there is a lot of devastation and we understand that". Scott gave reassurances that Florida will do all it can to speed supplies to Puerto Rico.

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