White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Twitter Thursday that President Donald Trump has “authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico.” She says Trump is responding to a request from the governor, and it “will go into effect immediately.”
Acting Homeland Security Department Secretary Elaine Duke confirmed the move, saying that the temporary waiver will last for 10 days and covers all products being shipped to Puerto Rico.
“It is intended to ensure we have enough fuel and commodities to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of these devastating storms,” Duke said.
A one-two punch by Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island in recent weeks, leaving residents with shortages of all supplies. Maria wiped out the power supply, destroyed cell towers and led to massive fuel shortages on the island that relies on diesel for much of its power.
The Jones Act is a little-known federal law that prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between U.S. ports. Republicans and Democrats have pushed Trump to waive the Jones Act, saying it could help get desperately needed supplies delivered to the island more quickly and at less cost.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló had tweeted earlier that he’d petitioned the White House Wednesday night for a temporary waiver, which would allow foreign ships to deliver items to the island.