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Another MTD affiliate has joined the call on Capitol Hill to defeat an amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill that would eliminate a portion of the Jones Act.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) sent a letter to all 100 U.S. Senators urging defeat of McCain Amendment #2, which calls for removal of the U.S.-build provision in the Jones Act, the nation’s freight cabotage law.

IBEW International President (and MTD Executive Board Member) Edwin Hill wrote the U.S.-build provisions “support nearly 500,000 American jobs; IBEW members hold more than 10,000 of these jobs. The indirect job statistics are equally impressive – for each direct Jones Act maritime job, five indirect jobs are created.

Hill told the Senators that the IBEW is a supporter of the Keystone measure as currently written but would reconsider if the McCain amendment is included. “Unfortunately, the widespread harm that [the McCain amendment] would have on IBEW members, the economy and national security is so great that if [the amendment] is included in the final legislation, the IBEW urges a ‘no’ vote,’ added Hill.

Calls for the defeat of the amendment continue to come in from both the Senate and the House of Representatives.   

In a bipartisan show of support, 32 House members signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stating the amendment would harm America’s defense and economy.

“Shipbuilders are vital to America’s national and economic security because they build, repair, maintain and modernize the largest and most sophisticated Navy and Coast Guard in the world as well as America’s fleet of approximately 40,000 commercial letters,” noted the Representatives.

“According to a recent study by the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, America’s shipbuilding industry supports more than 400,000 jobs in all 50 states, which boosts our economy by almost $60 billion every year. Each direct job in the shipbuilding and repairing industry leads to another 2.7 jobs nationally, and each dollar of direct labor income leads to another $2.03 in labor income in other parts of the economy.”

The letter to the Senate further remarked, “This amendment would have a detrimental effect at a time when our domestic commercial shipbuilding sector is seeing a surge in new vessel construction. We urge the rejection of this misguided proposal, and look forward to working with you to continue to grow a robust and vibrant domestic shipbuilding industry.”

The signatories (in alphabetical order) are Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Bradley Byrne (R-AL), David Cicillene (D-RI), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), John Duncan (R-TN), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Randy Forbes (R-VA),Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), John Garamendi (D-CA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Peter King (R-NY), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Richard Nugent (R-FL), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Scott Peters (D-CA), Charlie Pingree (D-ME), Ted Poe (R-TX), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Jason Smith (R-MO), Mark Takai (D-HI), and Robert Wittman (R-VA).

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) included his belief in the Jones Act when he stated: “The Jones Act is an important law that promotes a robust domestic maritime industry that helps to ensure our national security, while also providing for 500,000 U.S. jobs and producing over $100 billion dollars in economic output.  Any attempt to repeal or weaken this law would be harmful to our national security and our economy.”

From the other side of the Capitol, three Senators added their voices to defeating the amendment: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Bob Casey (D-PA).

“Repealing the Jones Act would not only negatively impact thousands of hard-working Wisconsinites this industry employs, it would also stifle our collective efforts to support a Made-in-America economy,” Baldwin stated.

Hirono, speaking on the floor of the Senate on January 16, expressed concern why such an amendment would be presented. “I don’t simply say this as a member from an island state where we depend on the reliability offered by American shippers for fresh food, energy and other everyday goods. But I say this as a Senator that cares deeply about supporting our strong and growing middle class and creating American jobs.

“The fact is these ships don’t create quick turnaround jobs, but are hundreds of thousands of well-paying, long-term manufacturing jobs,” Hirono said.

Casey noted the effect the McCain amendment would have on his state: “This amendment could have a serious impact on jobs and economic growth across Pennsylvania from Erie to Philadelphia. We should be voting on amendments that create more jobs for American workers instead of putting them at risk. The Jones Act protects American jobs and helps ensure the safety of our ports.”

The MTD, through its Port Councils and affiliates, continues to contact Senators across the country to urge the defeat of the McCain amendment to the Keystone legislation currently being debated in Washington.