John McCain moves to repeal the Jones Act
Senator John McCain introduced a bill that would repeal the Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. The Jones Act requires that all shipments between US ports be made on US controlled, made, and manned ships. McCain believes that the law hinders free trade and increases costs for US consumers.
Originally created as a protectionist policy following World War I, McCain calls the policy “an archaic and burdensome law that hinders free trade, stifles the economy, and ultimately harms consumers.” This is not the first time he has attempted to repeal the Jones Act as well. In 2010, he introduced legislation similar to the current one that was not passed. In 2015 and 2016, he attempted to add amendments to the ends of other bills that would loosen the requirements for some ships, attempting to wave the build requirements for oil and gas tankers. None of his previous attempts at a full or partial repeal have been successful.
Many in Puerto Rico are interested in seeing the Jones Act repealed. Many believe it has stifled the economy, essentially forcing Puerto Rican consumers to buy all American goods, from more expensive American ships and crews.
The Jones Act has many advocates as well, with many citing the huge number of jobs that have been sustained by the Act. Others say that the Act is necessary not for jobs, but as a “just in case” the US goes to war and needs to be able to build ships. The Act sustains the US industry for shipbuilding, and without it, the US would need to start rebuilding the shipyards before anyone could build any ships.