Seven United States Senators — all Republicans — called on President Trump to keep the Jones Act intact, and even look for ways to strengthen it, during the nation’s coronavirus pandemic. The elected officials represent various parts of the nation. The signatories to the letter supporting the Jones Act are Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
Dated April 27, the letter to the president reads: “We appreciate the strong leadership you have shown during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As the nation prepares to reopen the economy, we urge you to oppose any proposal that would weaken the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly referred to as the Jones Act (P.L. 66-261). Undermining this law would cost American jobs and damage the domestic maritime industry.
“The Jones Act has enhanced American prosperity and national security for 100 years. It ensures that maritime transportation between two U.S. ports is carried out by vessels that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S.-crewed. The law is fully consistent with your Buy American, Hire American agenda.
“Unfortunately, opponents of the Jones Act have used the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to attempt to undermine existing law. There is absolutely no connection between the Jones Act and COVID-19. In fact, the law has helped produce the types of vessels and qualified mariners necessary to support a variety of crisis response operations. If anything, the Administration and Congress should look for ways to strengthen the Jones Act.
“We ask that you join us in opposing any efforts to weaken the Jones Act.”
As noted in the letter, passage of the Jones Act occurred 100 years ago. Since the SIU was chartered in 1938, the union has fought constantly for the nation’s freight cabotage law, which declares any cargo moved from one American port to another must be carried by U.S.-crewed, U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S.-flagged vessels. More than 90 nations have some form of cabotage laws in existence.