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Seven United States Senators — all Republicans — called on President
Trump to keep the Jones Act intact, and even look for ways to
strengthen it, during the nation’s coronavirus pandemic.

The elected officials represent various parts of the nation. The
signatories are Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Bill
Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan
of Alaska, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska.

Dated April 27, the letter to the president reads: “We appreciate the
strong leadership you have shown during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
As the nation prepares to reopen the economy, we urge you to oppose
any proposal that would weaken the Merchant Marine Act of 1920,
commonly referred to as the Jones Act (P.L. 66-261). Undermining this
law would cost American jobs and damage the domestic maritime
industry.

“The Jones Act has enhanced American prosperity and national security
for 100 years. It ensures that maritime transportation between two
U.S. ports is carried out by vessels that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned
and U.S.-crewed. The law is fully consistent with your Buy American,
Hire American agenda.

“Unfortunately, opponents of the Jones Act have used the COVID-19
crisis as an opportunity to attempt to undermine existing law. There
is absolutely no connection between the Jones Act and COVID-19. In
fact, the law has helped produce the types of vessels and qualified
mariners necessary to support a variety of crisis response operations.
If anything, the Administration and Congress should look for ways to
strengthen the Jones Act.

“We ask that you join us in opposing any efforts to weaken the Jones Act.”

As noted in the letter, passage of the Jones Act occurred 100 years
ago. Since its existence, the MTD has fought constantly for the
nation’s freight cabotage law, which declares any cargo moved from one
American port to another must be carried by U.S.-crewed, U.S.-built,
U.S.-owned and U.S.-flagged vessels. More than 90 nations have some
form of cabotage laws in existence.