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The Hill — Larry Willis: Scapegoating a law that protects good jobs will not help Puerto Rico

More than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the situation remains dire. Forty percent of the island is without running water. Many roads and bridges are impassable. The electric grid is largely offline. The people of Puerto Rico desperately need and are entitled to help from the U.S. government. But instead of acting swiftly to pass an aid package, which Congress finally did last night, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) had threatened to hold up relief unless Puerto Rico is permanently exempted from the Jones Act, a law that protects good U.S. jobs.

The problem? Gutting the Jones Act is a misguided proposal being fueled by misinformation. Repealing this law will not solve Puerto Rico’s immediate humanitarian crisis, nor will it fix the country’s long-term financial problems. Since 1920, this law has created thousands of jobs for American mariners, shipbuilders and others in the maritime sector by ensuring goods shipped between two U.S. ports be carried on vessels made, owned and crewed by Americans. Today, the Jones Act supports 500,000 jobs and is vital to national security by guaranteeing the U.S. military can rely on American vessels and skilled mariners in times of conflict and crises.

Read more on The Hill.

 

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