U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg emphatically voiced his backing of America’s freight cabotage law – and U.S. mariners – during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.
Buttigieg spoke March 25 as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conducted a hearing titled, “The Administration’s Priorities for Transportation Infrastructure.”
Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) said to the secretary, “President Biden has expressed his strong support for the Jones Act, and as Chinese companies with state support become increasingly dominant in the shipping, shipbuilding, industry and maritime supply chain … will you continue to support the Jones Act and support a major investment in the U.S. shipbuilding industry, to support good-paying union jobs, ensure the national security of the nation, and protect the stability of the U.S. shipbuilding industry?”
Buttigieg responded, “I strongly support the Jones Act. As you mentioned, that’s the President’s view as well because it makes sure that cargoes moved between U.S. ports travel on vessels that are built, owned, and crewed by Americans. The Jones Act also ensures that we don’t lose our domestic shipbuilding capability so that we’re not in the situation, as you pointed out, where Chinese- flagged vessels could wind up being the only place we could turn to carry our domestic commerce on the Mississippi River or between Florida and New York. That, obviously, would have national security implications, that are not acceptable.”
Buttigieg added, “If we lose our national maritime industry, it might not return, and the consequences would be devastating. So, I’m going to continue to ensure that the U.S. Maritime Administration and DOT are doing our part, recognizing that there are many U.S. agencies that are involved in the Jones Act. And we’ll be doing everything we can to support that industry, as well as our Merchant Marine.”
The Jones Act enjoys bipartisan support, and is widely recognized as vital to U.S. national, economic and homeland security. Since its inception, the Jones Act time and again has proven its value as an indispensable law that benefits American workers and the American economy. PricewaterhouseCoopers, in its 2019 study for the Transportation Institute titled “Contributions of the Jones Act Shipping Industry to the U.S. Economy,” found that the law helps maintain around 650,000 American jobs while contributing billions of dollars each year to the U.S. economy. Another benefit is that the Jones Act helps maintain a pool of well-trained, reliable, U.S. citizen mariners who are available to sail on American-flag military support ships during times of crisis.
Nearly 100 countries around the world also maintain cabotage laws.