The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which waived the law after Irma and also following Hurricane Harvey's devastating landfall in Texas in August, said on Wednesday it was considering a request by members of Congress for a waiver.
Puerto Rico officials pressed the Trump administration yesterday to lift a ban on foreign shipping between American ports as the US island territory struggled with fuel, water and medical supply shortages one week after Hurricane Maria struck. "Our general counsel is evaluating whether members of Congress have standing to request such a waiver".
Puerto Rico has long railed against the Jones Act, saying it makes the cost of imported basic commodities, such as food, clothing and fuel, more expensive.
But it's also had the unintended outcome of making it twice as expensive to ship things from the US mainland to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other foreign port in the world, according to Republican Senator John McCain's office.
Marc - who has parents from Puerto Rico - was referring to the devastation of the Carribean Islands due to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. In addition, the petition called for the federal government to waive cost-sharing agreements for recovery programs, as Puerto Rico's government is already functionally bankrupt.
"The situation in Puerto Rico is much different", Moore said in the statement, adding that most of the humanitarian effort would be carried out with barges, which make up a large portion of the US flagged cargo fleet.
The officials said DHS can not issue a waiver due to increased shipping costs but must make the determination based on whether there are national-defense implications.
"The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability", Moore said.
"People don't have clean drinking water and your first instinct is to tell them they owe money", Meyers said.
A 2010 study by the University of Puerto Rico found that the Jones Act cost the island $537 million per year. "Most of the humanitarian shipments will be through barges, which make up a significant portion (along with tugs) of the US-flagged cargo fleet". McCain wrote in a letter to DHS Tuesday.
Still, the American Maritime Partnership, a coalition representing the domestic shipping industry, argues that the act supports national defense needs and ensures a vibrant maritime industry. "We are USA citizens". There was a Jones Act waiver put in place after Harvey; it expired on September 22.