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Daily Action: Pass a Puerto Rico Aid Bill Part 2: Suspend the Jones Act!


CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSPERSON: 
Rep. Julia Brownley: 
DC: (202) 225-5811
Thousand Oaks: (805) 379-1779
Rep. Ted Lieu:
DC: (202) 225-3976
LA: (323) 651-1040
Rep. Steve Knight:
DC: (202) 225-1956
Simi Valley: (805) 581-7130

CONTACT BOTH OUR SENATORS:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
DC: (202) 224-3841
LA: (310) 914-7300
Sen. Kamala Harris
DC: (202) 224-3553
LA:  (213) 894-5000

Sample Script:
Hello, my name is __________, and I am a constituent of Representative/Senator ___________'s in _______________, California. I am calling to urge her/him to immediately put forward an aid bill to assist Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. I am also asking him/her to call on Elaine Duke, the Acting Homeland Security Secretary, for at least temporary suspension of the Jones Act. Despite extensive devastation on the islands, and the suffering of more than three million of our fellow citizens, there is still no aid package before Congress. Please act now to approve aid to our territories before they descend into a humanitarian crisis on your watch. Thank you for your time.


BACKGROUND
Update from yesterday: let's learn about the Jones Act! A World-War-I-era protectionist law designed to assist the U.S. shipbuilding industry, the Jones Act has the distinction of being the reason Puerto Rico is in debt. It requires all food and supplies shipped into Puerto Rico be shipped only on US-owned ships. That restricts the number of transport vessels available, and therefore increases the cost of moving goods to these islands. When goods are desperately needed in a crisis such as Puerto Rico is experiencing today, it unnecessarily increases expense and strangles available aid.

During recovery from natural disasters, the law can be suspended to allow foreign-owned vessels to deliver much-needed supplies. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has already issued waivers for Texas' and Florida's ports in the wake of the most recent hurricanes. We are asking our members of Congress to join long-time Jones Act opponent Senator John McCain in his request to Acting Secretary Elaine Duke to reconsider her original denial of the suspension, and issue a waiver for Puerto Rico immediately. The ports are being rapidly restored to full operation and will be able to receive the additional supplies available - so we need to ship as much aid as possible. 

To review the need to reach out to our MoC's at all: usually we encourage you to call to ask our members of Congress to support or oppose a particular bill; today, we're asking you to call because there is no bill to approve aid to U.S. Territories devastated by Hurricane Irma and then Maria. Most of Puerto Rico, Vieques, and the U.S. Virgin Islands remain without power, water or communications, and their infrastructures have been crippled. They need extensive help from the Mainland.

While Congress passed an aid package for Texas after Hurricane Harvey, no bill has been advanced for additional aid for other areas hit by later hurricanes. As territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands lack voting representation in Congress. It's up to us to ask our Members of Congress to commit themselves to work for our fellow citizens in this crisis.