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Friday, May 17, 2024
Guam Congressional candidates united for Jones Act reform
By Grassroot Institute @ 6:52 PM :: 1014 Views :: Congressional Delegation, Jones Act

From left: Candidates Amanda Shelton, Michael San Nicolas, Ken Leon Guerrero and Ginger Cruz.  

Candidates to represent Guam in Congress united about Jones Act reform

from Grassroot institute, May 17, 2024

Just as in Hawaii, the economic problems caused by the 1920 federal Jones Act are a pressing concern on Guam.

At a recent event presented by the University of Guam,  four of the five candidates seeking Guam’s non-voting seat in the U.S. House of Representatives supported reform of the 1920 federal maritime law, which limits shipping competition between U.S. ports and causes higher prices.

According to KUAM News, the fifth candidate, Republican incumbent James Moylan, was invited to attend the forum, but did not. If he had, he also would have supported reform, since he has signed on to several bills in Congress that would provide “Guam-level exemptions” from the protectionist “coastwise” law.

The subject came up at the 1:29 mark of a PBS Guam video when a student asked: What would you do to rescind or revise the Jones Act?”

Democratic candidate Ginger Cruz answered first, saying “we could be able to change it [the Jones Act] if we … craft a new solution for Guam that looks more like a solution for an island that sits within Asia [and] that is at the fulcrum of what the Department of Defense is doing.”

She said she would ask the Congressional Research Service to “do a study that would prove how much money the Department of Defense would save if we were able to [repealing or reforming the Jones Act]. And by doing that, we could get the Department of Defense to also support an effort, which if we got everybody on board and we had a vision and we pushed really hard, I believe we actually could get an exemption to the Jones Act for the people of Guam.”

Republican candidate Ken Leon Guerrero said that if elected, he would “work very closely” with the House and Senate delegations of “all the ocean states and islands and rivers” because the United States has more coastline, ports and navigable waterways “than any other continent on the planet Earth, but because of the Jones Act we are handicapping our nation.

He said, “If we are able to get the river states and the coastline states to work together to eliminate the Jones Act, we would see a dramatic cost reduction in shipping goods around the United States to and from the United States that would help bring down the cost of living for all Americans.”

Third to respond was Guam’s previous congressional delegate, Democrat Michael San Nicolas, who it has been difficult to reform the Jones Act because of unions and the “over 40 different members of Congress who are going to step in and protect it because that’s an interest in their particular districts.” He said a way around that “roadblock” could be to “make it be about foreign policy” instead of “about Guam or about exemptions.”

For example, he said: “Let’s say, ‘Hey, you know what, State Department? Why don’t you take on a whole new tool that will allow you to identify certain countries that you’re gonna give a certain Jones Act exemption, to limit it maybe to one ship or one company, but it’s a country that we’re going to tap into. … Then all of a sudden, we unlock the shipping constraints. We’re able to bring those goods in on international carriers. We’re not pushing up necessarily against the Jones Act. We’re turning it into a tool of foreign policy. That’s how we can creatively solve our problems.”

Finally, Amada Shelton, a Democratic senator in the Guam Legislature, said trying to change the Jones Act “is a delicate dance,” and “there are obstacles in Congress such as the Hawaii, California [and] Alaska delegations that don’t want to see changes to this law.”

She said the Jones Act was passed originally “because of national security and threats to the United States that could come through commerce: — and that those threats “are still relevant.” She concluded: “I don’t think that we have to think about repealing [the Jones Act] and throwing out the whole cake. We can take little bites that we know we need to change and update so that they’re beneficial to Guam today.”

If you would like to view the entire forum, which covered many others issues besides the Jones Act, go here.

 

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