Trump Waives Jones Act for Puerto Rico, Easing Hurricane Aid Shipments
The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would temporarily waive a century-old shipping law for Puerto Rico
that officials there said was hindering disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Maria.
The waiver of the law, known as the Jones Act, comes as federal
and local officials report more supplies trickling onto the increasingly desperate island.
In a Monday letter to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, eight members of Congress asked for a temporary waiver of the act, arguing
that lifting it would expand access to food, medicine, clothing, building supplies and oil needed for power plants.
Several members of Congress had requested the waiver earlier in the week, saying it would facilitate delivery of food, medicine, clothing
and other supplies to the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
“It is unacceptable to force the people of Puerto Rico to pay at least twice as much for food, clean drinking water, supplies
and infrastructure due to Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster,” he said on Tuesday.
Governor Rosselló and federal officials on Thursday said that more fuel, food and flights were beginning to reach the island.
The decision was made by Elaine Duke, the acting head of Homeland Security, and comes after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis determined
that doing so would be in the interest of national defense, according to a Homeland Security spokesman.