Senator John McCain Seeks to Repeal the Jones Act

7th August 2017 / news

As a longtime advocate of repealing the Jones Act, Senator John McCain is seeking to introduce legislation to reform and repeal this Act.

The Jones Act

This Act, otherwise known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, regulates maritime (at sea) commerce and trade within the United States waters and United States ports.  It became law on June 5, 1920.  The Act restricts foreign country ships from carrying freight between the mainland of the United States and its non-contiguous parts, such as Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico.  Essentially, it prohibits foreign built or foreign country vessels from engaging in coastwise trade within the U.S.

Senator John McCain’s Position Against the Act

Senator John McCain has been an outspoken advocate for repealing this particular Act.  He believes the Act is detrimental to the United States economy as it stifles opportunities for free trade with other countries.  It is his opinion that the restrictions on trade that are currently in place harm consumers by creating a market with high prices on goods.

Senator McCain’s Early Efforts to Reform and Repeal

Senator McCain has dedicated significant time and effort in the last few years to reach his goal of Jones Act reform.  In June of 2010, Senator McCain introduced a bill called the Open America’s Waters Act.  The bill was not acted upon and was disposed of at the end of that Congressional session.

In January 2015, the Senator sought reform again by introducing an amendment to the XL pipeline bill which would have the effect of repealing it.  This amendment was nearly identical to the bill he had proposed back in 2010.  This second attempt was also unsuccessful, as the shipping industry and maritime unions were strongly opposed to Senator McCain’s proposal and had a role in stopping it from going forward.

Senator McCain introduced legislation yet again in January 2016, in another attempt to reform the Act.  This time, he sought to have petroleum tankers exempted from the Act requirement that the vessels must be created in the U.S. to have the ability under the law to engage in domestic coastwise trade.

The Open America’s Waters Act of 2017

Most recently, in July of 2017, Senator McCain introduced his latest attempt at Jones Act reform by introducing the Open America’s Waters Act of 2017.  Through this legislation, the Senator seeks to allow U.S. shippers to buy foreign-made carriers which may be available at a cheaper cost than carriers constructed in the U.S.  He advertises his newly proposed Act as one that would bring down the cost of goods and reduce shipping costs.  McCain also insists that this would help to make various American businesses and farmers more competitive in the global market place with this expanded trade ability.  At this time, it is too early to predict the odds of success of this recently proposed piece of legislation.

Senator John McCain Seeks to Repeal the Jones Act
5 (100%) 27 votes

Senator John McCain Seeks to Repeal the Jones Act

As a longtime advocate of repealing the Jones Act, Senator John McCain is seeking to introduce legislation to reform and repeal this Act.


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