Home > obama > Obama’s reason for not waiving Jones Act? Apparently politics.

Obama’s reason for not waiving Jones Act? Apparently politics.

I’ve been arguing for weeks that Republicans need to stop criticizing Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill, because there’s very little he can really do about it.  It seems I may have been wrong.  I’ve heard more and more about the Jones Act recently, and what it has to do with the BP oil spill.  What is the Jones Act you ask, and why does it matter?  Well, here’s the answer:

In order to accept the offers [to help], which have come from Belgian, Dutch, and Norwegian firms that claim to possess some of the world’s most advanced oil skimming ships, Obama would need to waive the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261). Also known as the Jones Act, the law requires essentially that all commercial acts conducted in U.S.-controlled waters be performed by “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.”

O.k., simple enough right?  Apparently not.  While Bush waived the Act to allow for other nations to help after Katrina, Obama has failed to do so.  Why?  The answer appears to be politics.

The explanation of Obama’s reluctance to seek this remedy is his cozy relationship with labor unions. Joseph Carafano of the Heritage Foundation is quoted as saying, “The unions see it [not waiving the act] as … protecting jobs. They hate when the Jones Act gets waived, and they pound on politicians when they do that. So … are we giving in to unions and not doing everything we can, or is there some kind of impediment that we don’t know about?”

If this is true, then Obama deserves every bit of the criticism he is receiving for the fed’s response to the oil spill, if not more.  The bright side?  If Obama responds to the mounting call to waive the Jones Act the way he has responded to every other criticism he has received to date, I anticipate the Act being waived any day now.  Hopefully he can explain what took him so long.

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  1. Paul& Deb
    June 13, 2010 at 6:05 AM

    lets hope that this president will be willing to cut through the red tape and give some real help to the people and wildlife on the gulf coast. paulkimreymmft@blogger

  2. Mary
    June 13, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Not to worry. It will all be over by tonight. ‘Cuz BP’s been ordered to have a plan that works in place by tonight. I feel better already. Not sure exactly what the hammer is, in case such a magical plan doesn’t materialize, but I wonder if it involves freezing all BP’s assets in the U.S. Wait, that will never happen. Not with this administration which has shown itself so loathe to involve itself in the takeover of private businesses.

  3. June 13, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    I’m glad you figured it out that it is Obamas fault. 60 days in and nothing done. Obama was on the case within 3 days of the explosion, but as you described it, he said, “no thank you” to the Netherland government. I can think back when Bush was castrated when it took him 3 days to respond to Katrina and 10 minutes to respond to 9/11. At least Bush did something about these crisis at hand, but with Obama, he rather have parties, go on vacation, and hit the golf course

  4. Ralph1963
    June 26, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    This story is WRONG! This all comes from Faux News. The Jones Act is not interefering in any way with the cleanup. Here is some good info:

    http://factcheck.org/2010/06/oil-spill-foreign-help-and-the-jones-act/

  5. June 28, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    No, the story isn’t wrong. Do you see what’s missing in your factcheck article? An assertion that the Jones Act has been waived. That’s because it hasn’t. In fact, government’s failure on this point is in the factcheck article:

    “Also, contrary to reports such as the one on “Fox & Friends,” international assistance has been accepted. To date, 25 countries and four international organizations have offered support in the form of skimming vessels, containment and fire boom, technical assistance and response solutions, among others. A chart provided by the State Department shows that as of June 23 five offers had been accepted and 50 were under consideration — including multiple offers from a single country or entity. One offer had been declined: France offered a chemical dispersant that is not approved for use in the United States.”

    Why have only five offers been accepted while fifty are under consideration? If the Jones Act isn’t applicable, then what’s the hold up? If you read any of the sources cited to in the factcheck document, they’re all from either the president or Deepwater Horizon clean-up team. Forgive me if I don’t trust Obama on the issue. With respect to the Deepwater Horizon team, all their press releases have said is that the “15 foreign flagged ships” haven’t required a waiver of the Jones Act to operate in the Gulf. That’s not the issue though is it? The issue is how many ships have been denied because they require a waiver of the Jones Act? Interestingly, none of press releases provide that information. Instead, vague statements like “we don’t feel it necessary to waive the Jones Act” or “we’re prepared to provide individual waivers when we deem it necessary” are thrown about.

    I have no idea what factcheck.org’s agenda is, if any. They’re apparently run by Penn’s public policy center, so you can make your own assumptions. The fact is though, for someone to go so far out of their way to “debunk” something in the news, and not even address the issue other than conclusively saying it’s not true, seems a bit dubious.

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  1. July 1, 2010 at 3:25 PM
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