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Only one ship headed to Puerto Rico under the Jones Act waiver is delivering FEMA aid

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Waiving the Jones Act for 10 days in Puerto Rico was touted as a way to deliver crucial aid and supplies to the U.S. territory in its time of need after Hurricane Maria.

But the Trump administration did not renew the waiver when it expired on Sunday night, despite Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s desire for an extended waiver that allows foreign ships to deliver goods to Puerto Rican ports from the U.S. mainland.

“I think we should have it. I think we should have all the tools that we have at hand,” Rosselló said to CBS news. “I don’t know what the results are of that Jones Act, again, we only had it for 10 days. It still needs to be analyzed. It couldn’t hurt, it couldn’t hurt to have it.”

“Most humanitarian relief supplies are being delivered by U.S. government (DHS, FEMA and DoD [Department of Defense]) assets, or Jones Act-qualified vessels,” said DHS spokesman David Lapan.

Ships operating under the Sept. 28 waiver must have loaded their cargo by the October 8 deadline and have until October 18 to transport their cargo to Puerto Rico.

Sen. John McCain, a longtime opponent of the Jones Act, called on Congress to pass a permanent Jones Act exemption for Puerto Rico after the temporary waiver expired.

“Now that the temporary Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico has expired, it is more important than ever for Congress to pass my bill to permanently exempt Puerto Rico from this archaic and burdensome law,” McCain said in a statement. “Until we provide Puerto Rico with long-term relief, the Jones Act will continue to hinder much-needed efforts to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild from Hurricane Maria.”

McCain and some libertarian-leaning Republicans oppose the Jones Act because they argue that it stifles economic competition in U.S. ports. A number of Puerto Ricans in Congress also support a permanent Jones Act exemption because they argue it causes the cost of goods to rise on the island, though Florida benefits from the 1920 law intended to bolster the domestic shipping industry.

Read more here.