American senator and ex-presidential candidate John McCain has filed an amendment to repeal the Jones Act, a US law which requires that all goods shipped between US ports are carried by vessels built, owned and operated by US citizens.
He said in a statement: “I have long advocated for a full repeal of the Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made US industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers.”
He continued: “The amendment I am introducing again today would eliminate this unnecessary, protectionist restriction.”
McCain cited research by the Congressional Research Service which found that the price of moving crude from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast United States on a US ship is three times higher than if a foreign-flagged tanker was used.
The American Maritime Partnership disagreed. Its chairman Tom Allegretti said in a statement: “The McCain amendment would gut the nation’s shipbuilding capacity, outsource our US Naval shipbuilding to foreign builders, and cost hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs across this country.”
He continued: “The shipbuilding requirement, which Senator McCain seeks to eliminate, is in place to ensure that the United States maintains the industrial capacity to build its own ships, so as to protect and defend the American homeland.”
McCain is supported by oil refiners and many manufacturers and state governments.
In 2010, McCain introduced a bill to repeal the act but gave up when he estimated that he only had around 20 Senators votes out of 100.
Recently he said in a speech to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank: “The power of this maritime lobby is as powerful as anybody or any organisation I have run up against in my political career. All I can do is appeal to the patron saint of lost causes and keep pressing and pressing and sooner or later you have to succeed.”