“No Jones Act waiver” was the message coming from six Senators and one Congressman as they left the White House following a meeting with President Trump on May 1.
Several news organizations relayed the declaration after U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi) as well as House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) met with the president after reports emerged a week earlier that some in the administration were considering an extended Jones Act waiver to move American LNG to domestic ports.
The delegation advised the president that the Jones Act has strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. They said Congress would not support such a waiver of the nation’s freight cabotage law. “We thank President Trump for standing by the Jones Act and the hundreds of thousands of good American jobs associated with it,” noted SIU President Michael Sacco. “We also thank all the members of Congress who have remained steadfast in their support of the Jones Act.”
According to Reuters, Cassidy told reporters, “He was going to oppose any changes to the Jones Act and any waivers. That’s what we went there hoping to get and that’s what we did get.” Cassidy also said in an online statement, “We cannot let the United States become dependent on foreign countries to transport energy and critical products within the United States. The Jones Act is essential to preserve our domestic shipping industry and protect our national and economic security.”
Sullivan stated to Politico, “I would say he committed.”
Kennedy stated, “After talking to President Trump, I am confident that he realizes how important the Jones Act is to Louisiana’s maritime industry and that no changes will be made. I made the case that the livelihood of Louisiana families is at stake. Louisiana is the greatest beneficiary of the Jones Act with thousands of jobs that depend on it. Our maritime industry is part of the lifeblood of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast economy. It would be foolish to push aside those jobs in favor of foreign made and foreign crewed ships.”
A week before the meeting, Matt Woodruff, chairman of the American Maritime Partnership (to which the SIU is affiliated), stated, “The 650,000 Americans whose jobs depend on the domestic maritime industry would find it inconceivable that President Trump – who is committed to putting ‘America First,’ supporting U.S. jobs and manufacturing, and also just last month signed an executive order helping military veterans transition into the American maritime industry – would choose to favor foreign shipping interests over American workers. American maritime is the quintessential ‘America First’ industry and we are confident President Trump, who has championed and supported our American shipyards, mariners, and industrial base, would not start us down a path now that would cripple our national security.”
Enacted in 1920, the Jones Act requires that cargo moving between domestic ports is carried aboard ships that are crewed, built, owned and flagged American. It enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress as well as consistently ardent backing from top U.S. military leaders because it is vital to national, economic and homeland security.
A new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the nation’s freight cabotage law helps sustain nearly 650,000 American jobs while contributing $154 billion to the nation’s economic growth annually.