Cassidy Leads Bipartisan Group of Senators in Urging Trump Administration to Strengthen Enforcement of Jones Act
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), led a bipartisan group of 11 senators in urging the Trump administration to preserve and strengthen the Jones Act, a federal law requiring all maritime shipments between points in the U.S. be carried out by domestically built and owned ships operated by U.S. citizens.
In 2009 and 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) attempted to revoke previous interpretations of the Jones Act concerning subsea operations on the U.S. Outer-Continental Shelf. Each time, CBP acknowledged these interpretations currently allow foreign-flag vessels to transport merchandise between U.S. points, and therefore are inconsistent with the Jones Act.
“We respectfully ask that you to consider the importance of the U.S. maritime industry and the value of protecting American shipping and American trade,” states the senators’ letter to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and National Security Advisor John Bolton. “For both our national and economic security, we hope that any recommendations are made in the interest of strengthening enforcement of the Jones Act.”
In addition to Cassidy, senators sighing the letter include Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), John Kennedy (R-LA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Cassidy led a related letter in April 2017 to then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
The full text of the senators’ letter sent today is below.
Dear Mr. Kudlow and Mr. Bolton:
Congratulations on your respective appointments to the National Economic Council and National Security Council. As you begin your respective tenures on the National Economic and National Security Councils and undertake a review of recent activities of the Councils, we respectfully ask that you to consider the importance of the U.S. maritime industry and the value of protecting American shipping and American trade. For both our national and economic security, we hope that any recommendations are made in the interest of strengthening enforcement of the Jones Act.
In early 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) attempted to revoke interpretations of the Jones Act concerning subsea operations on the U.S. Outer-Continental Shelf. At that time, CBP acknowledged these interpretations currently allow foreign-flag vessels to transport merchandise between U.S. points, and therefore are inconsistent with the Jones Act. This is the second time that CBP has acknowledged some of its interpretations do not conform to the law. Unfortunately, on both occasions CBP halted this revocation effort, allowing these flawed interpretations to remain in effect. As a consequence, foreign vessels continue to take work from American-made, American-crewed, and American-owned vessels, diminishing demand for U.S.-citizen mariners and American-made ships.
We understand that the Trump Administration is studying how to address these letter rulings, including whether regulatory action is necessary or appropriate. As we’ve noted, CBP has now twice acknowledged that it is not following the law. The only way the administration can address this issue is to enforce the Jones Act as written and revoke the letter rulings.
Congress has said it “is necessary for the national defense and the development of the domestic and foreign commerce of the United States … [to] have a merchant marine … composed of the best-equipped, safest, and most suitable types of vessels constructed in the United States and manned with a trained and efficient citizen personnel.” The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard are the best equipped and most capable services and the mariners that compose the merchant marine are some of the most skilled mariners in the world. In addition, American maritime companies employ thousands of hard working men and women in good paying jobs. In short, the Jones Act continues to provide for our national, homeland, and economic security, as intended by Congress.
We believe the sole, lawful course of action is for the administration to revoke the interpretations and enforce this important statute as written.
We look forward to working with you both on this issue and others to advance our nation’s interests.
Next Article Previous Article