US & World

Trump waives cargo restrictions to speed help to Puerto Rico

Residents at La Perla community in Old San Juan comfort one another as the community recovers from Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday.
Residents at La Perla community in Old San Juan comfort one another as the community recovers from Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday.
Carlos Giusti/AP

Under pressure to do more for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump is waiving federal restrictions on foreign ships' transportation of cargo to the island.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Twitter Thursday that Trump has authorized a waiver for the U.S. territory for a little-known federal law that prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between U.S. ports.

https://twitter.com/PressSec/status/913373292832153600

Advocates who pressed for the waiver have said it could get desperately needed supplies delivered to the island more quickly and at less cost. Trump tweeted Thursday about the results of the decision.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/913403237033742336

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico more than a week ago and has left it without power and with little access to fuel and other supplies. Republicans and Democrats had urged Trump to waive the Jones Act.

Juana Matos resident Hector Rosa walks through a flooded area after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, Wednesday, September 27, 2017. Since the devastating impact of said hurricane, the supply line of goods in general was interrupted in the US territory, causing endless rows in gas stations and comercial centers.
Juana Matos resident Hector Rosa walks through a flooded area after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, Wednesday, September 27, 2017. Since the devastating impact of said hurricane, the supply line of goods in general was interrupted in the US territory, causing endless rows in gas stations and comercial centers.
Carlos Giusti/AP

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke had waived the law earlier this month to help ease fuel shortages in the Southeast following hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That order included Puerto Rico, but expired last week shortly after Maria struck.

The Trump administration had said a waiver was not needed for Puerto Rico because there were enough U.S.-flagged ships available to ferry goods to the island.

Trump told reporters Wednesday that his administration was looking at a new waiver, but he said, "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."

Rossello responded on Twitter to Trump's action Thursday: "Thank you @POTUS."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a tweet, noted that the administration "has finally waived" the Jones Act.

https://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain/status/913389472255025152

This story has been updated.