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Trump waives Jones Act shipping restrictions for hurricane-battered Puerto Rico

Trump waives Jones Act shipping restrictions for hurricane-battered Puerto Rico

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the act was lifted Thursday morning, and it "will go into effect immediately".

Reporting from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has been one of the toughest assignments for journalists, as the island is grappling with damaged infrastructure, limited commercial flights and spotty electricity and cell service.

What the Jones Act does: It requires that ships going from American coast to American coast be American - built, owned, flagged and crewed.

In Washington Thursday, House Democrats called for immediate legislation to assist Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as early as next week. Trucks should be showing up to pick up the supplies, but the roads are so wrecked and fuel is so low that they're having trouble getting any at all.

Hurricane Irma - a Category 5 storm - reached the northern part of the island September 7, leaving one million Puerto Rican residents without power before Hurricane Maria hit barely two weeks later.

In a statement about the issues, the FDA says, "We are aware of several other instances where we may soon face critical shortages if we don't find a path for removal or ways to get production back up and running".

The Trump administration initially insisted the waiver was not needed because the U.S. had enough ships to deliver goods but an unnamed official from the Department of Homeland Security warned there was a bottleneck with unloading cargo at the island's damaged ports and getting supplies inland, as well as a shortage of diesel fuel.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello and Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, the island's representative in Congress, have said they intend to seek more than a billion dollars in federal assistance and they have praised the response to the disaster by President Trump, who plans to visit Puerto Rico next week, as well as FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

Third-year College student Victor Rodriguez was born and raised in Puerto Rico and said he has been personally affected by the destruction from Hurricane Maria.

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On Tuesday, hundreds of people crowded around a government water tanker in the northeastern municipality of Canovanas, some 15 miles (25 km) east of the capital San Juan, with containers of every size and shape after a wait that for many had lasted days.

"The electric power grid in Puerto Rico is totally shot".

The island's power grid was almost destroyed by Hurricane Maria, leading officials to predict it may take many months to completely restore reliable electricity service - affecting access to medical treatments and running water, as well as depriving millions of air conditioning in tropical heat.

"The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back almost 20 to 30 years", - Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez.

He said a "massive" effort to help people recover from the hurricane is under way and pledged that the federal government will pick up 100% of the bill for removing the debris left in the wake of Maria. "Our main focus right now is raising as much money as we can because our people are at risk".

While he'd prefer full repeal, McCain said the exemption would help Puerto Rico. We'll update as more information becomes available.

"Business has multiplied by a thousand", said Fernandez, 78, quickly adding: "Even though I'm doing well, I don't feel good because I know other people are suffering".

By waiving the Jones Act, the USA will allow for more rapid delivery of aid to Puerto Rico.

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