President Donald Trump on Thursday waived shipping regulations for ships bound for Puerto Rico after political pressure forced his hand. It won’t help.
Upwards of 10,000 containers and semi-trailers are stacked at the port in San Juan, Puerto Rico that contain food, water, medical supplies and other needed goods. But because many roads are impassable and there is a shortage of truck drivers and trucks, none of the goods are leaving the port.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also called the Jones Act, requires that all goods traveling between U.S. ports be carried by ships made, flagged and operated by U.S. entities. Waiving the restrictions will allow more ships to bring more cargo to a port that is unable to distribute it.
The move is political as it comes with no cost to the President and avoids him being painted as holding things up. Other than optics, it’s useless.
The real problems in getting aid to Puerto Ricans is that truck drivers and their machines are missing. Drivers are likely in areas that have been destroyed or they may have evacuated to the mainland before the storm. Their trucks could have taken serious damage during Hurricane Maria and there is little hope of finding an operating repair shop.
Democrats will do everything possible to paint this as “Trump’s Katrina” despite decades of liberal policies leading to infrastructure and building codes that made the disaster orders of magnitude worse than it otherwise might have been.
The honest truth is the Puerto Rico is going to take years to get back to normal. There is no government effort that will change that. But hey, the Jones Act has been waived so feel good about that.
Update: The number of cargo containers stranded at San Juan’s port was increased on Thursday afternoon to an estimated 10,000.