The 1920 Jones Act, regarded as one of the cornerstones of USA maritime policy, requires that goods shipped between US ports be carried by vessels built in the US, majority-owned by American firms and crewed by US citizens. Only the Department of Defense can obtain a Jones Act waiver automatically, as it did to transport petroleum products from Texas after Hurricane Harvey. He told CNN that the act was temporarily waived during Hurricane Irma, which he said was much less devastating than what Puerto Rico is facing. German U-boats no longer pose a threat to the USA, and the act now mainly serves to bolster the American shipping industry, effectively giving it a monopoly on shipping to ports like those in Puerto Rico.
Within three hours, Porter said, "We had kitchens capable of feeding 100,000 meals a day committed to be driven to Florida, packed onto boats and shipped to Puerto Rico". President Donald Trump's administration has so far not granted his request. "The cargo is here".
"The real challenges happen to be on the island itself", the official said, adding that there were plenty of US -flagged barges and tugs available. Other studies have estimated the Jones Act's damage to Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska to be $2.8 billion to $9.8 billion per year. However, in the wake of brutal storms, the government has occasionally issued temporary waivers to allow the use of cheaper, tax free or more readily available foreign-flagged ships. President George W. Bush suspended it after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and President Barack Obama suspended it after superstorm Sandy in 2012. The airport was filled with law enforcement personnel from the Department of Homeland Security on a recent visit, he said. Mr. McCain has long sought a repeal of the Jones Act. It is unacceptable to force the people of Puerto Rico to pay at least twice as much for food, clean drinking water, supplies and infrastructure due to Jones Act requirements as they work to recover from this disaster. But a request from a member of Congress is not the usual pathway by which the department gets waiver requests, the DHS official said.
But critics of the Jones Act say that vessel availability isn't the issue. In his tweets, Trump highlighted Puerto Rico's long-running debt problems and antiquated electrical grid.
He went on to thank the governor of Puerto Rico and mayor of San Juan for being "very generous with their statements".
"That is critical, particularly for fuel", he said.
"It's pretty ugly out there", he said.
"And they all support at least a temporary waiver of the Jones Act so that not only from USA maritime ships but from anybody that can bring help", he said. Waivers must be based on whether or not the there are enough USA ships to keep up with shipping needs, which DHS is saying there are.
The government has suspended the law in the past, and did so just this month because of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
Her family lives in Humacao, on the east coast of the island. Now with Puerto Rico in need of help, the Miami rapper hasn't missed a step in doing his part.
VELAZQUEZ: Well, for six days now, everyone has been pleading for the government to have a more proactive role in providing the manpower, in providing the resources that is needed for basic, basic needs.
"It's quite clear that for the White House, a public relations issue in the National Football League takes far more precedence than a disaster in Puerto Rico", he said.
"This is the first time we get this type of federal coordination", said Resident Commission Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Washington.