Maritime Workers Critical for Energy and Security
By Republican Whip Steve Scalise
This year, yet again, southeast Louisiana leads the nation in American maritime jobs, highlighting Louisiana’s importance to our country’s energy and national security. With Louisiana’s vast natural resources, including abundant energy supplies in the Gulf of Mexico and the mighty Mississippi River, our state continues to play a vital role in producing energy for our nation and ensuring that American goods and services make their way to world markets via our waterways. The thousands of maritime workers in our state are the backbone of that important activity.
With Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District alone supporting over 33,500 domestic maritime jobs that generate $8.97 billion in economic impact, we are clearly a heavyweight in this field. It was announced just last week that my district is home to more maritime workers than any other district in the country. When it comes to securing and growing American trade, offshore energy, and seafaring capabilities, it all begins right here, and all of this is thanks in part to the Jones Act.
The federal Jones Act, which was enacted almost a century ago, requires maritime shipping between U.S. ports to be transported by American-flagged ships, built in America and largely crewed by Americans. At its heart, the Jones Act is a national security law that prevents foreign ships from moving freely within our inland waterways and coastwise points and ensures America always maintains and builds upon our naval capabilities. Without the Jones Act, our maritime industry would be easily undercut by foreign entities that are propped up by their governments, leading to a huge reduction in our Merchant Marine fleet and the knowledgeable, skilled American workers who build and crew them.
Further, without the Jones Act, our inland waterways would be opened to traffic from foreign vessels, crewed by unknown foreign nationals with no way to track who they are bringing into our country. Just like the way we prevent foreign airlines from flying between domestic airports, the Jones Act prevents foreign ships from moving between domestic ports. As the gatekeeper to the mighty Mississippi, Louisiana would be especially vulnerable to security threats posed by foreign vessels entering the United States or moving as they please between deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico. That said, there is more work to be done to ensure the Jones Act is properly enforced to protect our national security.
I continue to fight for proper enforcement of the Jones Act to address these serious national security concerns and to ensure these high-skilled, high-paying jobs remain in Louisiana and in America. President Trump took office on a mission to protect American jobs and prevent them from being shipped overseas. Just a few weeks ago, the president signed another executive order supporting American jobs and goods. There is no better time than now to keep these vital jobs here at home and protect the country from serious national security and economic risks. The Jones Act plays an important role in accomplishing both goals, and I will continue fighting to preserve this important law.