GOP bill aims to give Puerto Rico more help

Posted September 29, 2017

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

Two Republican senators have introduced legislation to permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act, a previously obscure law that requires that goods shipped between USA ports be carried by us -flagged vessels.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the act was lifted Thursday morning, and it "will go into effect immediately".

"The situation on the island is perilous and reporting on the sustained damage and dangers is hard at best", Esri Industry Manager Ryan Lanclos said in a statement.

More news: Federation Internationale de Football Association set to call ceasefire with poppy pushers

Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said 10,000 federal forces are on the island, including 7,200 troops.

While Puerto Rico tries to slowly recover from Hurricane Maria, drugmakers, who operate more than 50 plants and distribution centers on the island, are working to prevent shortages.

President Trump has waived the Jones Act for storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, allowing foreign ships to bring much-need supplies to the US territory's ports.

The Trump administration initially insisted the waiver was not needed because the United States had enough ships to deliver goods but an unnamed official from the Department of Homeland Security warned there was a bottleneck with unloading cargo at the island's damaged ports and getting supplies inland, as well as a shortage of diesel fuel.

More news: Trump tweetstorm blasts McCain for opposing Obamacare repeal

Trump faced mounting calls to freeze the 97-year-old act, which requires products shipped between USA ports to be moved by American-owned ships.

Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossello, praised President Trump's responsiveness, saying Trump has been in contact with him on a daily basis. "We have no idea of the full magnitude.Nothing good happens after eight days in the tropics without food or water". Critics have called the act anachronistic and argue that it is stalling recovery efforts in the badly damaged island territory that was hit by two massive storms in quick succession this month.

"We're thinking about that", Trump said on Wednesday.

The $40 million in "quick release" funds is meant to restore essential traffic on Puerto Rico's roads and limit further damage, in order to facilitate long-term fix work and recovery efforts. He said "a lot of people who are in the shipping industry don't want it" waived, followed by unintelligible nonsense. That means goods going from the mainland to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam, or even from Texas to New England, have to travel on USA ships, even if they're not the most economical transport or readily available.

More news: DHS: Colorado's election system targeted but not breached by Russian activity