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McCain Amendment Could Scuttle U.S. Maritime Industry

This Jones Act tanker was built by U.S. workers at General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego and launched in 2004. Photo courtesy of General Dynamics NASSCO

While many lawmakers are focusing on creating, maintaining and even bringing back jobs to the United States, Sen. John McCain (R- Ariz.) is pushing legislation that threatens 400,000 U.S. shipbuilding, seafaring and supply chain jobs in the maritime industry.

McCain has offered an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill to repeal the Jones Act, which requires that goods shipped between U.S. ports are carried by U.S.-built, flagged, crewed and owned ships.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) says McCain’s amendment “would undermine our domestic maritime industry and threaten the more than 400,000 jobs it supports nationwide.”

After years of stagnation, the American maritime industry is investing a record amount in new ship construction with American shipyards building many modern, state-of-the-art vessels. The production of these vessels provides stable, high-paying manufacturing jobs for America's workers and contributes $36 billion to gross domestic product. This amendment would stifle that progress and the associated economic benefits.

Along with the economic damage, McCain’s amendment threatens national security, according to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

That for me is a real consequence…it will put our entire U.S. [merchant] fleet in jeopardy…and then in time of crisis who are we going to get to carry out or logistics….Very difficult if we don’t have U.S.-flagged ships.    

If the Jones Act is repealed, says Edward Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD):

The only parties that stand to benefit from this amendment are heavily subsidized foreign shipping competitors who are not subject to U.S. laws, regulations, environmental standards and taxes.

Click here to go to the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department to send a letter to your senators and representative urging them to oppose McCain’s amendment to repeal the Jones Act. Read more from the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department on the growing opposition to the McCain amendment.

Also, Louisiana mariner has posted a “We the People” petition on in support of the Jones Act and against the McCain amendment. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, White House staff will review it, ensure its sent to the appropriate policy experts and issue an official response. Click here to sign the petition.

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