As the end of the year approaches, it must be time for the annual visitation known to many in the U.S.-flag maritime industry.
No, this isn’t about what some would have people believe that the guy in the red suit with the flying sleigh is a myth. It’s about a real tall-tale – that the Jones Act harms American interests.
Earlier this month, a conservative think-tank offered a lecture on what it perceived as problems with the Jones Act – the nation’s freight cabotage law which states that cargo moved between two domestic ports must be carried aboard U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-built and U.S.-owned vessels.
The hitch with that Washington, D.C.- lecture was it only repeated the same debunked stories and fabrications that have been offered numerous times.
Yet, while attempting to make the case against the Jones Act, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) did state: “But I have to tell you … the power of this maritime lobby is as powerful as anybody or any organization I have run up against in my political career.”
As this was taking place, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act which included language that the Jones Act as well as the U.S.-flag domestic industry is important to “the national security and economic vitality of the United States and the efficient operation of the United States transportation system.” It also noted the positive role domestic shipyards and ship repair sites have on the economy and national security.
The chair of the American Maritime Partnership (AMP, a coalition of U.S.-flag labor and business interests, including the MTD), Thomas Allegretti, saluted the Congressional bipartisan show of support for the Jones Act: “It is hard to imagine a more emphatic and unambiguous statement of support for the Jones Act than this legislation.”
Allegretti added, “The fact that it originated from both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees is only further evidence of the national security benefits of the act and the American domestic maritime industry.”
Adding to the support from Capitol Hill were U.S. Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Majority Whip, and Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the chair of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee. The pair declared, “Without the Jones Act, vessels and crews from foreign nations could move freely on U.S. waters, creating a more porous border, increasing possible security threats and introducing vessels and mariners who do not adhere to U.S. standards into the bloodstream of our nation.”
During the debate, AMP released a fact check which pointed out that the Jones Act “supports almost 500,000 jobs that pump nearly $100 billion into the nation’s economy every year.” The MTD remains staunch in its support for the measure.