Amendment to exempt Puerto Rico from Jones Act rejected

Amendment to exempt Puerto Rico from Jones Act rejected

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.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Capt. Ed Enos
    June 12, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    This political effort was clearly a ‘first step’ in what would have been the eventual death of the Jones Act. It never ceases to amaze me how politicians like Representative Gary Palmer, a Republican from Alabama, can be so poorly misinformed about our maritime industry. His state and his constituents are so HUGELY served and benefit from the maritime industry, how can this guy be so ignorant of what his efforts will eventually result in to his own state’s economy? The answer is he is a republican and like most republicans lead by John McCain, it is a party position. How sad and stupid. I am a conservative, typically vote republican, and live in the island state of Hawaii. I am intimately aware of what the Jones Act means to an island like Puerto Rico. Their problems have little to do with the Jones Act, a fat Red Herring used to distract from the real problems. Like my island home lead for generations by liberal democrats, Puerto Rico suffers from political mismanagement and fundamentally poor leadership that made bad economic choices that brought them to where they are today. My state is in virtually the same place. The Jones Act transportation laws provide for US flag cargo carriers to bring consumer goods to our people in a dedicated, timely, and efficient service. Contrary to popular opinion, there is a healthy competition between carriers. It’s time to stop blaming a law that has been fundamental to our nation’s foundation since it’s inception. The problem with Puerto Rico’s economy is their own inept politician’s and poor leadership. Not the Jones Act.