Trump Waives Pro-Union Shipping Regulations To Send Aid To Puerto Rico

People line up to fill jugs with drinking water outside a police station in Juncos Puerto Rico Sept. 24 2017. Hurricane Maria lashed Puerto Rico as a strong Category 4 storm causing widespread damage and leaving the island without power. (Victor J. Bl

While Puerto Rico tries to slowly recover from Hurricane Maria, drugmakers, who operate more than 50 plants and distribution centers on the island, are working to prevent shortages.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a tweet, noted that the administration "has finally waived" the Jones Act.

Rossello had asked Trump to temporarily waive the law as the island seeks food, water and other supplies following widespread devastation from Hurricane Maria. The entire island is in a communications and power blackout, Washingon Post reporters there say: "Estimates for the return of electricity and basic services will be measured not in days but in weeks and months".

Shipping containers have been piling up at Puerto Rico's ports in the aftermath of Maria, which struck on September 20, causing widespread flooding and major damage to homes, roads and other infrastructure. Republicans and Democrats have pushed Trump to waive the Jones Act, saying it could help get desperately needed supplies delivered to the island more quickly and at less cost.

He joined the growing list of officials who argued that lifting the the Jones Act - a federal law created to protect the financial interests of USA shipbuilders by limiting shipping by foreign vessels - would help expedite supplies to the ravaged island.

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The Jones Act was waived earlier this month to provide relief assistance prior to Hurricane Irma's landfall, DHS said.

Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossello, had said Wednesday that he expected the waiver, which suspends a 1920 law requiring that only American-flagged vessels be used for shipments between two US ports. "This can help immediately provide access to a few common data feeds that are immediately needed in the event of a disaster, such as traffic data; weather and storm tracks; precipitation forecast and accumulation amounts; and flood gauges". Bossert adds that most of the island's hospitals there are taking patients.

A barge with 100 defense trucks carrying diesel and gasoline was expected to arrive in San Juan by Monday. "The power of this maritime lobby is as powerful as anybody or any organization I have run up against in my political career", McCain said in 2014.

It's never quick enough. Cargo ships are stuck in port waiting to be offloaded, but supplies have nowhere to go, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Caribbean island, a USA territory, has been coping with shortages of food, drinking water, electricity and various forms of communication in recent weeks.

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