Vitter Defends Jones Act, Maritime Industry (2/3)

 

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The following press release was issued by the office of U.S. Senator David Vitter on January 30.

 

Vitter Defends Jones Act, Domestic Maritime Industry


U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) today released a statement for the Congressional Record defending the Jones Act, a law that protects the domestic maritime industry. This week Vitter fought against legislation proposed by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) to repeal the Jones Act. The amendment was not passed by the Senate.

 

“Any attacks against the Jones Act are attacks directly on Louisiana’s state economy. The maritime industry creates tens of thousands of local jobs and supports families and communities down the Mississippi River, along all our waterways, and across our coasts,” Vitter said. “Louisiana’s maritime industry is vital to our national economy and plays an important role in strengthening our homeland security.”

 

The domestic maritime industry creates 55,000 jobs in Louisiana and contributes $11 billion per year to the state economy.

 

Vitter’s statement for the Congressional Record is below.

 

"I rise today to speak on the Jones Act, an important law for our nation’s maritime industry and for our national security. Senator McCain has filed an amendment to repeal the Jones Act, and I urge its defeat.

 

In Louisiana, we know how important the maritime industry and Jones Act related jobs are to our state and our economy. According to the American Maritime Partnership, Louisiana leads the nation in maritime jobs by a number of measurements of the domestic maritime economy. For domestic maritime employment, Louisiana has more jobs than any other state – 55,000 jobs out of close to 500,000 nationwide. Louisiana also leads the nation in per capita maritime jobs, with one in 83 jobs being tied to our domestic maritime industries, nearly twice that of any other state. For total economic output from domestic maritime activity, Louisiana again leads the nation with more than $11 billion per year.

 

Louisiana’s 2,800 miles of navigable waterways handle more waterborne commerce than any other state. Tug boats based in Louisiana facilitate entry of cargo into the Mississippi River and then up the river and throughout the nation on our inland waterways. This vast infrastructure and the maritime operators using it directly benefit the entire nation. For example, 60 percent of export grain travels to the Gulf of Mexico through Louisiana. Also, one-fifth of our domestic energy is produced off the coast of Louisiana with support from the domestic fleet of offshore workboats.

 

The Jones Act helps ensure the strength and stability of our domestic maritime industry, and it will help ensure that it continues to flourish. These jobs and the economic benefits from them would be at risk if the Jones Act were repealed. I have no doubt that our industries can and will compete effectively against their counterparts around the world. However, they cannot compete fairly against the heavy subsidization that foreign governments give to their industries. Also, there cannot be fair competition when foreign vessels are not subjected to the same requirements for safety, fuel containers, labor standards, training, incidental vessel discharges, other environmental regulations, taxes, and more that our industries have to follow.

 

Also, the Jones Act is vital to the military as it protects our national security. In order to ensure our Navy remains the best equipped and most powerful navy in the world, we must have domestic skills base and shipbuilding capacity. Also, we need to have an adequate domestic fleet to ensure the fast and secure delivery of vital military cargoes around the world.

 

For our homeland security, the Jones Act helps keep our ports and waterways safer from attack. Imagine if our inland waterways and ports were fully open to foreign vessels. The Coast Guard and our other law enforcement agencies would have no real, effective way to know if vessels are safe as they travel through our river communities, if the crews are properly licensed for the vessel’s operation, or if anyone or anything on the vessels pose a risk. The Jones Act helps our first responders and law enforcement better know any potential threats and allows them to be better prepared to act in an emergency.

 

In short, any legislation to repeal or lessen the protections of the Jones Act would threaten jobs, economic growth, military strength, and homeland security. I will continue working to support the U.S. maritime industry."

 

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