McCain introduces Jones Act legislation

Last week, Sen. John McCain, R-Az., introduced legislation that would revise the Jones Act, which requires that all goods shipped between U.S. ports be moved by U.S.-built, -owned and -operated vessels. It is the second time in about 18 months that McCain has introduced a Senate bill to amend or repeal the act.

“I have long advocated the repeal of the Jones Act, an archaic and burdensome law that hinders free trade, stifles the economy, and ultimately harms consumers,” McCain said in a statement. “My legislation would eliminate this regulation, freeing American shippers from the requirement that they act against their own business interests. By allowing U.S. shippers to purchase affordable foreign-made carriers, this legislation would reduce shipping costs, make American farmers and businesses more competitive in the global marketplace, and bring down the cost of goods and services for American consumers.

“The protectionist mentality embodied by the Jones Act directly contradicts the lessons we have learned about the benefits of a free and open market. Free trade expands economic growth, creates jobs, and lowers costs for consumers. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and finally repeal the outdated and protectionist Jones Act.”

McCain has been working for years to revise and repeal the Jones Act. He first introduced legislation to repeal the Jones Act in the Senate in 2010, and most recently introduced an amendment in the 114th Congress in January 2016 that would waive Jones Act requirements for oil and gas tankers.

Full text of the Open America’s Waters Act of 2017 legislation is available here.

About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.


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    What about the American ship owners and crews it would affect ?? He is not thinking correctly as what this can do to the American economy just his personal interests…

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    Frank Micari on

    The problem with the repeal of the complete Jones Act is twofold. First I believe that the repeal will place the shipbuilding business here at home in jeopardy as the need for American ship bottoms goes down so does the business of building ships and the other entities, i.e. steel suppliers, equipment suppliers, etc. will be adversely affected. So will the need for American seaman licensed officers and support for the maritime schools around the country. Look at all of the small shipping lines that have come into existence carrying freight from US ports to US ports and the mainland to Puerto Rico that will be out of business because foreign carriers stopping at US ports can undercut the US entities (because of home country subsidies to ship building and cheaper crew expenses etc.) and carry cargo from US to US ports. The second aspect is the protections afforded seaman under the act. Historically seamen have been considered wards of the state and with that there are protections for lost wages, injuries, maintenance and cure etc. If the Jones Act was to be repealed in its entirety the protections and benefits afforded to the seamen by way of the liabilities placed upon their employers by the Jones ACT will either be lost or have to be legislated in a different fashion. Sometimes the desire for so called free trade forgets about the businesses and little people left out in the US. You may open up free trade but most probably not fair or trade on equal ground.

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      And because of this arcaiac law the US Citizens of Puerto RIco, US Virgin Islands etc. Have to pay up to 40% more for goods. The cost of using old and inefficient vessels is a burden to the economies of the territories. Anyways how big is the non-military cargo vessel manufacturing industry is the USA? I bet it’s not significant.

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        “Anyways how big is the non-military cargo vessel manufacturing industry is the USA? I bet it’s not significant.” <— that's the problem! Even with protections, the shipbuilding industry in the U.S. is in tatters. If it continues, we won't have an industry to rely on when we need to. The Jones Act should be STRENGTHENED to incentivize U.S. shipping companies to purchase U.S. ships and maintain them with U.S. crews.

        Then we can look at how to make U.S. shipbuilding more competitive with the rest of the world. If the Jones Act is repealed costs won't go down for Puerto Rico in the long run, their indirect costs will rise. oh and FYI: the best maintained and efficient vessels are operated by the USMM/MSC… are there newer ships out there? Sure. However, those vessels are not in the same volume as are MSC vessels. Most shipping companies are operating vessels older than MSC registered vessels and they are far from being more efficient, in fact, nowhere near the same state of readiness.

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    Robert F. Stanley on

    It figures. John McCain comes from a state with no ocean coastline. Does not have a clue. Time to retire.

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    Can we check to see what foreign entity is donating money to John McCain’s campaign? Surely there has to be a reason he is working against American Workers . At a time when yards are closing and filing bankruptcy this would be the final straw!

    In my 32 years of shipbuilding I have never seem things this bad, John McCain wants to make it worse. Maybe he’s spent just too much time in the desert (Arizona) and doesn’t realize how many communities make their living off of the sea.

    Lets vote this guy out of office, PLEASE!

    Eddie Adler

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    Capt. Charles Shermam on

    Never….mccain will eventually take our jobs by letting foreign ships move American made products within the u.s. his liberal thinking and cowardness is one of the reasons this once great country is in the poorest shape its ever been

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      It Is NOT LIBERAL thinking it is CONSERVATIVE thinking that has taken your jobs. Anybody that votes for a Republican thinking they will help working people has lost their mind.

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    Hopefully everyone in the maritime industry will contact their state senators and demand they vote against this bill. Why McCain is so determined to undermine US jobs is beyond comprehension. Glad he didn’t become president.

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      Nobody will think about the people from Puerto Rico? Our economy is in a very bad shape at the moment. We need fair businesses. This is an unfair archaic law!!!

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    Mark Donahue on

    Yes it will create jobs for foreign shipyards and destroy what remains of the American marine industrial base. Smart thinking from the U S Represenrative from a land locked state.

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    Lance Walthall on

    McCain is an idiot who lives in a landlocked state. Repeal of the Jones act would have devastating consequences for the very depressed oilfield vessel companies and coastwise trade shipping companies in the U.S. that are also unfairly hampered by the Tier 4 EPA requirements. He needs to retire from the Senate and enter an old folks home.

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    I’ve been a merchant mariner for over 30 years. This repeal by Senator McCain is nothing more than an attempt to destroy more American jobs because this would open the door too foreign workers just like other industries that have been destroyed this is the only American job that has been protected for Generations because of the Jones Act McCain is a criminal and should be tried accordingly he is not a hero he is a traitor to this country for even suggesting such a treasonous Act .A.MONTALBAN .U.S..MERCHANT Marine. CHIEF ENGINEER.

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    Richey Esbin on

    The Jones Act insures quality vessels are working in US waters. Last thing we need are the rusty hulk with unqualified crews

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    This repeal will be the final nail in the coffin for an already hurting industry.Thank god Mc Cain isn’t President. John McCain has already Blown up one ship now he wants to Destroy an entire fleet. American fleet of course.

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    Who’ paying McCain off? While it might make shipping cheaper for places like Alaska, we’d have ships and crews in our waters that don’t meet US standards. It would probably kill the remaining US merchant fleet, too.

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    C/E Harold Solar on

    Yea, nope. Another politician trying to take job’s from Americans, and give job’s to country’s overseas.

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    At bare minimum the Jones act needs to be modified to not include cruise ships, but really overall I have to agree with him.

    As someone who lives near the Port of Los Angeles, I can see that this would force the American companies to have some REAL competition and we could stop all of this do it our way or we will strike nonsense that they do now. I mean really, they complain about getting $30+ an hour with full benefits? Come on, time for a reality check and this would give it to them.

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      Thanks Chris, I like where you’re going.

      There are millions of citizens in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Island that have to pay triple for a product to protect a 50k people Merchant Marine Service that was protected at a time in history (1920) that would make sense, but now the NAVY and Coast Guard can protect our waters on their own. Let’s stop protecting a few and start thinking about the many.

      US Ship builders need to compete in an even plain field, not fair you can charge more because a law protects you and consumers HAVE to pay for it.

      I do think that foreign vessels need to be upheld to same highest standards though, it wouldn’t be fair to allow a foreign rust bucket on our waters but require a domestic one to be in top shape. Same for all. Free trade, let capitalism take care of the rest. Or should we create a law to prohibit foreign made cars on our streets? No, because any foreign car that wants to compete in the US for a piece of the market, needs to pass the highest safety standards to even be allowed into the US.

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    Yes! We need a brake from this completely unfair law!! This is absolutely archaic! Our economy is terrible at this moment,
    And because of this archaic law the US Citizens of Puerto RIco, US Virgin Islands etc. have to pay up to 40% more for goods.
    Jones Act law, should be repealed! Is simply UNFAIR!

  16. Pingback: Stop Beating Up on the Jones Act | Later On

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