The Jones Act lifted! Now what can you do to help Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands?

After the passing of Hurricane María last week, most residents in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are without power, running water, or even communication. 80% of agriculture has been wiped out and numerous hospitals have been ravaged. The Trump administration has been criticized for discrepancies in aid and support of Puerto Rico’s residents versus those in Florida or Texas following devastating hurricanes.
One significant barrier to receiving support was the continued enforcement of the Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act 1920, 46 U.S.C. § 883). After outcry from the Governor of Puerto Rico and congressional reps from both sides of the aisle, Trump finally allowed a waiver of the Jones Act just this morning. This means more aid at lower prices can now reach Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands by allowing goods to enter via foreign vessels without punitive tariffs, taxes and fees.
The White House has also hinted that they will send a request for a funding package for Puerto Rico to Congress in the next few weeks. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898. Its residents are U.S. citizens who deserve aid and funding, just like Texans and Floridians. Congress must act now to approve emergency supplemental appropriations.

CALL TO  ACTION

Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop
 (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)

Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Check here.

Talking Points

At a minimum, any legislation to assist Puerto Rico during this critical time should include:

1.     An emergency spending package to the US territory to assist in relief efforts
2.     Direct the Department of Defense to provide helicopters and other emergency and rescue resources to Puerto Rico.
3.     Increase the FEMA funding level for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Puerto Rico

There’s an urgency for the U.S. federal government treat this situation as what it is — as a humanitarian crisis involving 3.4 million U.S. citizens.

For more information on the Jones Act, check out this NY Times oped: “The Law Strangling Puerto Rico“.

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