The U.S. economy needs the Jones Act

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I was surprised to see The Post's editorial board climb on board with a handful of critics, including Republicans in Congress and conservative commentators, in blasting the Jones Act ["Time to rethink the Jones Act," editorial June 25].

I would expect patriotic Americans of all political stripes, including Republicans such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), to welcome with open arms the Jones Act, which requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S. flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. Instead of supporting American industry, American workers and American environmental standards, however, Mr. McCain has introduced legislation to repeal the Jones Act. He seemingly was motivated by accusations that the Obama administration was slow to accept assistance from foreign countries offering to help with the gulf oil spill cleanup.

There is no evidence that the Jones Act has interfered with the cleanup, as The Post editorial acknowledged. Administration officials have clearly stated they would be willing to waive the Jones Act if needed and that the law had not prevented the response team from accepting aid offers.

The law is necessary to prevent our economy from being dominated and controlled by foreign shipping interests. A domestic maritime industry also provides a significant source of employment that is important to maintaining a cadre of well-trained, loyal American merchant mariners ready and able to respond in a time of war or other emergency. A privately owned, U.S.-flagged fleet is vital to our economic, military and international political security.

Linda T. Sánchez, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents California's 39th District in the House of Representatives.

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