Congresswoman calls for yearlong Puerto Rico Jones Act waiver
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, September 24, 2017
Caribbean Business Magazine (Puerto Rico) published on September 22, 2017, a news article, “N.Y. Gov. Cuomo, Congresswoman Velázquez bring help to Puerto Rico,” noting the arrival Friday, September 22nd of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Congresswoman Nydia M Velázquez (D-NY-07) to the island territory’s capitol San Juan.
Prior to leaving New York, Gov Cuomo appointed Cong Velázquez Co-Chair of the Governor’s Empire State Relief & Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico.
They traveled to Puerto Rico to inspect the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Puerto Rico early Wednesday morning September 20th. As part of her comments while on Puerto Rico, Caribbean Business reported Cong Velázquez as saying, “she will push in Congress for a one-year waiver for the island from the cabotage restrictions under the Jones Act.”
Cong Velázquez is one of five representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives of Puerto Rican descent representing mainland districts and often referred to as the “Puerto Rican Congressmen,” who actively support measures for the territory.
Cong Velázquez was born (1953) and educated in Puerto Rico, migrated to New York for post graduate studies, and won election to the U.S. House in 2003 representing Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and Queens. She is a progressive Democrat.
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is represented by a single non-voting member of congress known officially as the “Resident Commissioner” and serves a unique four-year term. The current resident commissioner is Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR-At Large), who won election in 2016.
Cong Velázquez’s comment proposing a yearlong Jones Act waiver was picked up by the national press after the Caribbean Business reporter, Luis J. Valentín Ortiz, tweeted on September 22nd, “Congresswoman @NydiaVelazquez says she will ask Congress for a one-year waiver to Jones Act in Puerto Rico @CaribBusiness,” and the Congresswoman re-tweeted it.
As of the time of this writing, no press release is posted to Cong Velázquez’s congressional website referring to her comment of September 22nd made on Puerto Rico regarding the Jones Act.
There are many questions about this proposed legislation. Will Cong Velázquez actually introduce legislation? Will she be able to garner any co-sponsors and other support? Will the yearlong waiver be a simple extension of the short term Jones Act waivers administratively granted by the Trump Administration for the transportation of petroleum products? Or will Cong Velázquez seek a broader waiver to include other kinds of shipping such as dry bulk carriers and container carriers to assist with the rebuilding of the island?
Regardless of the nature of Cong Velázquez’s proposed yearlong Jones Act waiver, it should be expected that the U.S. domestic maritime industry – also known as the Jones Act industry – will oppose the passage of such legislation especially if her waiver would seek to include dry bulk and container shipping.
CB: N.Y. Gov. Cuomo, Congresswoman Velázquez bring help to Puerto Rico