PRINTER'S NO. 2563
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE RESOLUTION
No.
562
Session of
2017
INTRODUCED BY VAZQUEZ, CRUZ, YOUNGBLOOD, O'BRIEN, DONATUCCI,
PASHINSKI, READSHAW, CALTAGIRONE, BIZZARRO, DRISCOLL,
J. HARRIS, D. COSTA, RYAN, SCHWEYER, BULLOCK, ROZZI, HILL-
EVANS, KINSEY, DAVIDSON, CONKLIN AND W. KELLER,
OCTOBER 12, 2017
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, OCTOBER 12, 2017
A RESOLUTION
Urging the President of the United States and the Acting
Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to extend the existing
waiver period of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also
referred to as the Jones Act, from 10 days to 365 days.
WHEREAS, On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria, a
strong Category 4 storm, made landfall in the United States
territory of Puerto Rico and has since been described as the
worst hurricane in the modern history of Puerto Rico; and
WHEREAS, With winds exceeding 150 miles per hour, Hurricane
Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and dumped torrential rains on the
island of 3.4 million United States citizens, which has resulted
in the widespread devastation of land, property and electricity
infrastructure and has left most residents without power and
potable drinking water; and
WHEREAS, While it is still unclear exactly how many lives
have been lost, it is estimated that Hurricane Maria has caused
between $40 billion and $85 billion in insured losses, according
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to catastrophe-modeling firm AIR Worldwide; and
WHEREAS, As humanitarian aid continues to pour in, both
domestically and internationally, to the hurricane-ravaged
island, one of the issues cited as an impediment to the
efficient delivery and dispensation of vitally important
resources is the current statutory restrictions of the Merchant
Marine Act of 1920 (41 Stat. 988, 46 U.S.C. ยง 861 et seq.), also
referred to as the Jones Act; and
WHEREAS, The Jones Act states that a vessel may not provide
any part of the transportation of merchandise by water, or by
land and water, between points in the United States to which the
coastwise laws apply, either directly or via a foreign port,
unless the vessel was built in and documented under the laws of
the United States and is wholly owned by persons who are
citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, Although the original purpose of the Jones Act was
well-intentioned and predicated on the notion of regulating
maritime commerce in United States waters and ensuring national
security, one of its unintended consequences is that it has
impeded the amount of humanitarian aid that can be both readily
and efficiently delivered by foreign vessels to the island of
Puerto Rico; and
WHEREAS, A similar dynamic presented itself following the
devastation of hurricanes Harvey and Irma along the United
States Gulf Coast, which prompted Acting Secretary of Homeland
Security Elaine Duke to initially approve a waiver of the Jones
Act on September 8, 2017, and then subsequently extend the
initial waiver through September 22, 2017; and
WHEREAS, On September 28, 2017, following the aftermath of
Hurricane Maria and its catastrophic impact upon the territory
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of Puerto Rico, Acting Secretary Duke granted a 10-day waiver of
the Jones Act for the purpose of facilitating the movement of
all products to be shipped from United States coastwise points
to Puerto Rico; and
WHEREAS, While the authorization of a 10-day waiver of the
Jones Act is certainly appreciated by the residents of Puerto
Rico, the degree of devastation experienced by the territory has
given rise to an urgent set of circumstances that necessitates a
greater extension of time for the waiver; and
WHEREAS, All concerned and involved parties agree that given
the magnitude and severity of Hurricane Maria's impact upon the
territory, Puerto Rico's road to recovery will be a very costly
and protracted one which will require a great deal of aid and
assistance from the Federal Government; and
WHEREAS, A favorable by-product of extending the waiver of
the Jones Act from 10 days to 365 days is that it will enable
many of our foreign and international allies to more effectively
marshal and deliver critically important aid and resources to
our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, while simultaneously
enabling our nation to make better use of its own scarcely
available domestic resources; therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urge the President of United States
and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security to extend the
existing waiver period of the Jones Act to 365 days from the
date of the initial waiver granted to Puerto Rico on September
28, 2017; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the members of the Congress of the United
States accord serious and careful consideration to the prospect
of either repealing or partially repealing parts of the Jones
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Act for the purpose of modernizing the scope of the act; and be
it further
RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be sent to the
President of the United States, the Acting Secretary of Homeland
Security, the presiding officers of each house of Congress and
to each member of Congress from Pennsylvania.
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