President Donald Trump’s top tragedy adviser defended the administration’s eight-day wait to waive limitations under the Jones Act that limited which ships may be employed to provide relief supplies to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, despite complaints against lawmakers.
Trump Tom Bossert & #x2019 homeland security adviser, said the complaint is “unfounded. Distribution bottlenecks on the island instead of in shipping capacity limitations have caused & #x 201D; Shortages of food, water, gas and other aid supplies, he told reporters.
Trump on Thursday ordered a waiver of the Jones Act, a 1920 marine law requiring imports of products between two U.S. vents to be made out of American-flagged vessels and manned by American crews. Though some Democrats criticized the period period as short for the scale of the tragedy, the waiver will continue 10 weeks for shipments to Puerto Rico.
“In this specific case we had sufficient ability of U.S. flag vessels,” Bossert said. But the president took the action a “Favorable” measure after a petition was received by him .
“It is intended to ensure we have sufficient fuel and commodities to support lifesaving attempts, react to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the aftermath of these devastating storms,” behaving Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement.
The Trump administration is facing mounting criticism of its response to damage from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Democratic senators wrote Trump calling for “#x 201D & decisive and powerful leadership; to fulfill what they described as gaps in the response.
Puerto Rico was hit by Maria more than a week ago, this month and Irma struck the Virgin Islands.
Trump was thanked by Rossello on Thursday on Twitter. Bossert said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has taken charge of restoring electricity in the land, which is largely without power and dependent on generators.
“Finally, the White House is starting to wake up, carrying temporary actions on the Jones Act and Improving the army presence,” Illinois Representative Luis Gutiérrez, a Democrat, said in a statement. “But it took some time and more is required right now. ”
There’s dispute about the significance of waiving the Jones Act. The top Republican and Democrat on the House Transportation Maritime subcommittee stated that they’re contrary to it.
“The concerns about the problem in Puerto Rico are real. But we must focus our attention on the actions that could deliver real results on the island,” Republican Duncan Hunter and Democrat John Garamendi wrote in a letter to House colleagues.
“Waiving the Jones Act won’t help and, in reality, could hinder the reaction,” the two Californians wrote. There’s “more than sufficient supply of U.S.-flag vessels to cost-effectively and economically deliver the goods from U.S. vents to Puerto Rico,” they stated.
Other Democrats backed the suspension but stated 10 times wasn’t sufficient. Representative Nydia Velazquez of New York stated Democrats need that waiver extended for a year.
She also called on Congress to immediately consider a relief package of about $50 billion to $70 billion and stated the seven-member fiscal control board overseeing Puerto Rico must reconsider its debt repayment program for the island as a consequence of the storm.
After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the last month, the statute was temporarily waived by the Trump administration for certain gas imports. ” it stated port capability was the barrier as soon as the Homeland Security Department before this week declined to issue a waiver for Puerto Rico. As of Wednesday, six of 15 vents on the island remained closed.
“The waivers make sense in instances where there’s a need and a demand and we’ve exhausted all possible U.S. flagged resources and then we go into the realm where foreign-flagged tonnage is required,” explained Klaus Luhta, vice president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, said Wednesday before the waiver has been issued. “But to not undergo that process is unfortunate, it’s disingenuous and it violates the law.”
Hunter and Garamendi stated the problem wasn’t distributing it over the island & #x 2019, although obtaining substance to Puerto Rico;s streets. Thousands of cargo containers bearing millions of crisis meals and other aid supplies have been piling up on San Juan’s docks since Saturday. The hills of substance may not reach storm survivors .
“Bringing additional overseas ships into ports trying hard to return to regular operations will probably only exasperate the problem,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to coworkers.
The island of 3.4 million is in the throes of a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, without power, mobile-phone support or fresh water. Puerto Rico’ electricity grid may remain down for months or weeks and went dark. Of the commonwealth’ 69 hospitals, only 11 have fuel and electricity. Officials and residents warn to clean water.
The devastation is the result of the third fatal storm over the last month to face the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Department.
“What we are seeing is the scope of devastation in the history of #x 201D, & Puerto Rico; Rossello told MSNBC. “What we need is all hands-on deck. ”
Rossello said Trump has been &#x 201C in being in contact; #x 201D. In addition, he said that supplies of help have been obtained from many states.
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