Senator McCain Sets Crosshairs on Jones Act Build Requirement (Again!)

Mike Schuler
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January 30, 2016

Once again U.S. Senator John McCain [R-AZ] has his crosshairs set on the Jones Act with an amendment he intends to attach to a proposed energy bill that would eliminate the U.S. build requirement for tankers involved in U.S. coastwise trade.

McCain hopes to attach the amendment to bill S. 2012, also known as the “Energy Modernization Act of 2015”, which seeks to provide for the modernization of the energy policy of the United States, and for other purposes.

The submitted amendment from McCain would change section 12112 of title 46 of the United States Code (46 U.S.C. 12112 – Coastwise Endorsement) by eliminating the U.S. build requirement for oil and gasoline tankers involved in U.S. coastwise trade.

S. 2012 is an original bill sponsored by Senator List Murkowski [R-AK] from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and was first introduced in September. The bill may be up for consideration on the Senate floor next week.

The amendment is the latest attempt by McCain to repeal parts of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, aka the Jones Act, requiring that all goods shipped between ports of the United States be carried by vessels built in the United States and owned and operated by Americans.

In 2015, McCain attempted to attach a similar amendment to a Keystone XL pipeline bill, again seeking to eliminate the U.S. build requirement of the Jones Act. The attempt was met with fierce criticism from industry stakeholders and lawmakers alike, and the bill ultimately passed without McCain’s amendment attached. 

Despite tough opposition, McCain has vowed the eventual full repeal of the Jones Act, describing it as “antiquated law” that hinders free trade and raises prices for American consumers.

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