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Jones Act Under Attack

December has been a busy month for opponents and proponents of the Jones Act. On Dec. 5th Senator McCain called for “Deregulation of the American Maritime Industry, citing a 2002 study published by the United States International Trade Commission which, “suggested that a repeal of the Jones Act would reduce shipping costs by 22 percent…[and] would have an annual positive effect on the economy of 656 million dollars.”

However on Dec. 12th Congress gave resounding support for the Jones Act. The text of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 3979), has this to say:

“The national security benefits of the domestic maritime industry are unquestioned as the Department of Defense depends on United States domestic trades’ fleet of container ships, roll-on/roll-off ships, and product tankers to carry military cargoes;

The Department of Defense benefits from a robust commercial shipyard and ship repair industry and current growth in that sector is particularly important as Federal budget cuts may reduce the number of new constructed military vessels; and

The domestic fleet is essential to national security and was a primary source of mariners needed to crew United States Government-owned sealift vessels activated from reserve status during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in the period 2002 through 2010.”

This was followed by a statement from American Maritime Partnership Chairman Tom Allegretti;

“Today, Congress reaffirmed its support for the American domestic maritime industry, the Jones Act, and the critical role both play in the national security and economic vitality of our nation,” . “It is hard to imagine a more emphatic and unambiguous statement of support for the Jones Act than this legislation. The fact that it originated from both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees is only further evidence of the national security benefits of the Act and the American domestic maritime industry. In fact, this is the strongest Congressional statement of support for the Jones Act since the Merchant Marine Act of 1936.”

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