President Donald Trump is considering waiving a law prohibiting foreign ships from delivering fuel from U.S. ports to Puerto Rico while the island recovers from Hurricane Maria, CBS News reports.
Maria blasted through Puerto Rico last week and was the strongest storm to hit the island in the past 80 years. It came off the heels of another powerful storm, Hurricane Irma, that had hit less than two weeks before.
Trump has so far refused to waive the Jones Act, legislation that prioritizes U.S. shippers over foreign competitors, for sending fuel to Puerto Rico. Trump waived the Jones Act for recovery operations in the U.S. after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, The Washington Post reports.
Trump recently told CBS News that he was “thinking” about lifting the Jones Act.
“We have a lot of shippers and a lot of people and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted,” Trump told CBS. “We have a lot of ships out there right now.”
GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona has urged Trump to waive the Jones Act for disaster relief going to Puerto Rico.
“These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions,” McCain said, according to USA Today. “However, I am very concerned by the department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.”
Puerto Rico is quickly running out of everyday necessities such as fuel, food, and clean drinking water. Hospitals do not have the supplies needed to treat the injured as more and more Puerto Ricans check into hospitals after accidents, CNN reports.
Canovanas Medical Center’s Dr. Norbert Seda said that while no loss of life from a lack of power and supplies has been reported, “it’s coming.”
“When there’s a shortage of water and sanitation issues, it will come out. We are expecting something like that to happen,” Seda told CNN.
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