Three Senators Report That Trump Won't Issue Jones Act Waiver

File image

Published May 2, 2019 2:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, three Republican senators said that President Donald Trump has pledged not to issue a Jones Act waiver for the transportation of LNG. 

“He’s not going to make any changes to the Jones Act,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), speaking to Bloomberg. “He was pretty categorical.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) also confirmed that Trump had told lawmakers that he did not favor a Jones Act waiver

Leaders of the U.S. maritime industry responded positively to the news. "Yesterday, President Trump stuck by his 'Buy American, Hire American' promise. More than 650,000 men and women rely on the domestic American maritime industry for their jobs," said Matt Woodruff, VP of public affairs for Kirby Corp. and the current president of the American Maritime Partnership. "The President’s action maintains those jobs and the economic contributions of the industry, and sustains important homeland and national security benefits to the nation as well." 

Earlier reports of White House discussions about the Jones Act had raised questions about the president's intentions. On April 23, Bloomberg reported that President Trump and top White House aides were debating the possibility of issuing a Jones Act waiver for coastwise transportation of LNG. According to the report, the president was said to favor granting the waiver.

The governor of Puerto Rico has sought a 10-year waiver for transporting LNG, which the island uses to generate electric power. A waiver could also allow New England gas buyers access to domestic LNG when onshore gas pipeline capacity is exceeded. Both of these U.S. markets currently source LNG from abroad, as there are no Jones Act-qualified oceangoing LNG carriers to deliver the product. 

On April 27, four days after Bloomberg's report, Trump indicated his support for domestic shipping and shipbuilding at a rally in Wisconsin. "I'm pleased to report that earlier this month, Interlake Steamship Company announced plans to build the first Great Lakes freighter in 35 years," Trump said. "And that just means more jobs, more jobs, more jobs."

"It is critical to have robust shipping and shipbuilding industries in the U.S. to ensure our nation’s economic and national security," said Interlake president Mark W. Barker. "Our fleet is - and has always been - U.S. built, U.S. owned and U.S. crewed."