The US House of Representatives Rules Committee has rejected a proposed bill amendment that would have exempted Puerto Rico from the requirements of the Jones Act.
The amendment was attached to a relief bill designed to help Puerto Rico’s economy, which is in terrible straits.
Its sponsor, Representative Gary Palmer, a Republican from Alabama, argued that the Jones Act of 1920 imposes unnecessary costs on Puerto Rico because it requires vessels plying routes between two US ports to be US built, flagged, crewed and owned.
Opposition to the amendment, led strongly by the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) said that lifting Jones Act requirements would be of little economic help to the Caribbean island, which is an unincorporated US territory. It also said that exemption would weaken US and Puerto Rican security.
In explaining its rejection, the Rules Committee stated that the amendment was not pertinent to the Bill.
However, the Bill itself did pass. Titled the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), it is designed to restructure its finances. Puerto Rico is due to make a $2bn debt repayment on July 1.