McCain calls for removal of ‘archaic’ law to get supplies to Puerto Rico
PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for the removal Tuesday of what he labeled an “archaic” law to speed relief efforts for Puerto Rico, which was damaged heavily by Hurricane Maria.
McCain wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking to to analyze how a long-term waiver or repeal of the Jones Act would affect the nation.
“I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria,” he wrote in the letter.
The law, passed in 1920, requires good shipped from the United States mainland to Puerto Rico be sent on ships built and owned by Americans. McCain said the law has driven up prices on the storm-ravaged island.
“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,” he wrote.
Millions were without power on the island, which sits south of Florida. Food stores, when they do open, have had bare shelves and drinking water has been hard to find.
The letter asked DHS to look into several factors, including the actual cost of the Jones Act, how it could affect recovery efforts and the effect waivers of the law have had on other communities.
McCain has been trying to repeal the Jones Act for the better part of a decade.
Arizona’s junior senator, Jeff Flake, called on President Donald Trump in a separate letter to remove other old laws, the Davis-Bacon wage mandates.
Also called prevailing wages, Davis-Bacon wage mandates essentially set the payscale for workers within a certain area. Most of them were passed in the early 1900s.
Flake said he was concerned the laws would allow people in Florida and Texas to take advantage of the system during recovery operations and waste billions in tax dollars.
“Given the significant cost associated with the reconstruction efforts, it is in the American people’s best interest to ensure that every dollar is used as effectively as possible,” Flake wrote in the letter.
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