Congressional, maritime leaders stress bipartisan support of Jones Act

(WASHINGTON) — Bipartisan lawmakers and maritime leaders stressed the importance of the Jones Act at a House hearing on Wednesday, with the head of the Maritime Administration (MarAd) saying U.S. mariners "are a de facto layer of our national security," the American Journal of Transportation reported.

MarAd Administrator Mark Buzby was among those speaking on the state of the U.S.-flag shipping before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The panel and those testifying expressed bipartisan support for the Jones Act and enforcement of the law.

“(It) isn’t just about employment and the economy, it’s about national security implications," said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., reflecting on the role of the domestic maritime industry, particularly in response to the needs of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and subsequent criticism of the Jones Act. "It’s important that we do keep this on the front burner. When I went down to Puerto Rico … it was clear to me after seeing it myself and talking to folks that the real challenge was the internal infrastructure, perhaps the distribution system, within Puerto Rico that was significantly damaged rather than actually getting the cargo there. In fact, the ports were clogged with cargo.”

Committee chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said, “In order for us to maintain the way of life as we know it as a nation that is secure and is able to project power, be it Navy power or commercial power, the Jones Act is intrinsic to that. It is the cornerstone of all of them. … The absurdity to have Korean or Chinese or 'name your country' made ships take away the entire American workforce of making ships and driving them and getting something from point A to point B in America, it's absurd and I hope that we keep educating so that people understand how (the Jones Act) is one of the cornerstones of our entire country’s national security apparatus.”

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By Professional Mariner Staff