In the wake of Hurricane Fiona, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), introduced the Puerto Rico Recovery Act, a bill requiring the Department of Homeland Security to waive the Jones Act for vessels or operators reasonably demonstrating their intention to provide disaster relief to Puerto Rico. The waivers would be valid for one year or until the end of the Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico, whichever comes first. The bill was introduced by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) in the House.
The bill comes at a time when the White House had to delay a Jones Act waiver for a diesel vessel awaiting entry into Puerto Rico. Secretary Mayorkas finally granted the waiver on September 28th, citing a cumbersome case-by-case process as the reason for the delay. This legislation establishes a swift Jones Act waiver approval process which will help ensure full and continued relief to the territory of Puerto Rico.
Of the bill, Sen. Lee said, “We cannot allow the Jones Act to delay relief to Puerto Ricans trying to recover from the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Fiona. Failing to act while much of the territory is without power is unconscionable. My bill would provide quick access to resources waiting to enter Puerto Rico without unnecessary delay.”