President Trump just allowed Puerto Rico’s waiver for the Jones Act to expire, with a spokesperson announcing that foreign ships will once again be forbidden from bringing assistance to the suffering U.S. territory.
Trump issued a temporary waiver of the Jones Act to help Puerto Rico days after the hurricane decimated the island, only after widespread outcry from critics who pointed out that Trump was not so slow to issue similar waivers for Texas and Florida. While Trump extended the waivers on Texas and Florida, he has chosen not to do so for Puerto Rico.
Many in Puerto Rico continue to live without electricity or access to drinking water as of this writing.
Sens. John McCain and Mike Lee recently introduced legislation that would exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act permanently. The antiquated law was enacted in 1920, and in addition to making supplies more difficult to reach the island, its effect on Puerto Rico’s poverty-stricken economy has only made the cost of living even higher.
Trump officials argue that the biggest issue facing relief efforts is the transportation of goods from the docks to the rest of the island. They claim that there are now enough domestic companies on hand to take care of Puerto Rico’s needs.
Puerto Ricoan Gov. Ricardo Rosselló called Puerto Rico’s recovery an “unprecedented catastrophe,” and is begging Congress for additional aid.
“We are grateful for the federal emergency assistance that has been provided so far,” Roselló wrote in a letter to Congress. “However, absent extraordinary measures to address the halt in economic activity in Puerto Rico, the humanitarian crisis will deepen, and the unmet basic needs of the American citizens of Puerto Rico will become even greater…”
“Financial damages of this magnitude will subject Puerto Rico’s central government, its instrumentalities, and municipal governments to unsustainable cash shortfalls. As a result, in addition to the immediate humanitarian crisis, Puerto Rico is on the brink of a massive liquidity crisis that will intensify in the immediate future,” Rosselló wrote.