White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced the waiver of Jones Act, which is meant to expedite the delivery of needed relief supplies to Puerto Rico, in a tweet on Thursday morning. The governor, who has staunchly defended Trump's response to the hurricane, retweeted her post with a "Thank you @POTUS" - referring to the Republican president's official Twitter handle. They either have to pay tariffs for landing at a US port, or they would have to go to Florida first to drop off their goods with a Puerto Rico-bound USA ship.
The waiver, which will be in force for 10 days and will cover all products shipped to Puerto Rico, was signed on Thursday morning by acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, the DHS said in a statement.
The waiver will guarantee the needed equipment to fix infrastructure damaged by the storm and restore emergency services, Duke said in a news release.
The Jones Act dates back to the 1920s and restricts shipping between American ports to American ships with American crews only, which ends up making it just as expensive to ship things from the U.S.to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other port in the world, according to members of Congress who asked the President to lift the restriction.
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Scott's trip comes amid growing pleas for help by Puerto Rico, which is largely without power and lacking basic services one week after Hurricane Maria struck the island.
The Federal Highway Administration said Thursday that it would immediately make the emergency relief funds available to the US territory to help restore service on roads and bridges badly damaged by the storm.
Rick Scott is traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday to help with recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria devastated the island one week ago. Meanwhile, area clergy urged Scott to lobby federal officials to lift restrictions on religious groups being able to help deliver urgently needed relief supplies. "You have to remember that not only did Irma come through and create quite a bit of damage and destruction that we were working to fix, but Maria was. one of the strongest storms that Puerto Rico's seen since the 20's and let's face it, the infrastructure is weak and there were no building codes and so there is a lot of devastation and we understand that". Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said he was dissatisfied with the federal response but that relief operations had been hampered by damage to the air traffic control system, airports and ports. Yet, what I also saw was inspiring.