U.S. Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) once again renewed his strong support for the Jones Act in an opinion piece published by Marine Link on April 24.
“The Jones Act is the lifeblood for a U.S. maritime trade that supports 650,000 jobs and almost $100 billion in annual economic impact,” Garamendi wrote. “If the Jones Act did not exist, the U.S. maritime industry would be sharply undercut by foreign shippers with lower labor protections, environmental requirements and safety standards.
“Not only would we outsource marine transportation along our coasts and inland waterways to the cheapest foreign bidder, we would also hollow out a key component of American industrial might and eliminate jobs in American shipyards, which employ 110,000 people in 26 states.”
Garamendi served as the ranking Democrat for six years on the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee. He noted that experience helps him understand “how vital the Jones Act is for our nation. Repealing it would prioritize foreign shipping interests over American workers while undermining America’s national security and economic development.”
In his text, Garamendi noted 91 countries have cabotage laws similar to the Jones Act. He recalled how the American military had to use foreign-flag ships during 1991 Gulf War to move some material, and crews aboard more than a dozen of those foreign-flag ships refused to carry the cargo to the war zone.
In response to reports that some in the White House may be considering a Jones Act waiver to move American LNG to domestic ports, Garamendi added, “Waiving the Jones Act would directly contradict the president’s purported goal of strengthening American industry. The Jones Act enjoys bipartisan support in Congress and throughout the nation. As we look to the future, if we want to keep the United States as a great maritime power, we would be wise to protect and expand this flexible, durable and valuable maritime policy.”
Along with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), the congressman last year introduced the bipartisan Energizing American Shipbuilding Act, designed to boost domestic shipbuilding for the 21st century. The pair is crafting a new bill for this session of Congress.