On Monday, U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez and seven other representatives asked Elaine Duke, acting head of Homeland Security, to waive the nearly 100-year-old shipping law for a year to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, an office of Homeland Security, said in a statement that an assessment by the agency showed there was “sufficient capacity” of U.S.-flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico.
“The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability,” Moore said.
Puerto Rico has long railed against the Jones Act, saying it makes the cost of imported basic commodities, such as food, clothing and fuel, more expensive.
First, there is the actual discussion of whether or not this would help. If there is plenty of shipping, but the ports don’t have enough capacity, then the waiver wouldn’t actually help anyone. It seems that there is some dispute about that.
But second, it does highlight how high American taxes actually impact everyday Americans. After this spat passes, perhaps the Congress can see about lowering the tax burden.