Arizona Sen. John McCain has earned himself the wrath of the shipbuilding industry by his promise to work to repeal a protectionist law, which he tacked onto the Keystone XL Pipeline bill.
The measure is aimed at repealing the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also called the Jones Act, which says "that all goods shipped between waterborne ports of the United States be carried by vessels built in the United States and owned and operated by Americans," The Daily Caller is reporting.
According to McCain
, the Jones Act is "an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers."
He cited the Congressional Research Service, which has determined that "it costs $6 per barrel to move crude from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast United States on a Jones Act tanker, while a foreign-flag tanker can take that same crude to a refinery in Canada for $2 per barrel."
This rule, the Arizona Republican says, is "taking money directly out of the pockets of American consumers. I hope my colleagues will join in this important effort to repeal this archaic legislation to spur job creation and promote free trade.”
As a result, Politico is reporting that McCain "is tangling with the shipbuilding industry, which has long had a frosty relationship with the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee because of his frequent criticisms of the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship and its Ford-class aircraft carrier."
But now, because he is threatening the Jones Act, officials from the shipbuilding are responding.
"McCain's amendment would result in the outsourcing of U.S. shipbuilding to foreign nations," putting "our entire U.S. fleet in jeopardy," Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told Politico.
In an opinion piece for The Hill,
California Rep. Linda Sanchez, Democrat, said that "McCain's amendment would undermine our domestic maritime industry and threaten the more than 400,000 jobs it supports nationwide."
In addition, Tony Munoz, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Maritime Executive,
wrote an opinion piece for his publication also criticizing the amendment.
"Lifting the Jones Act would open U.S. markets to foreign competition and might decrease prices for consumers, but at what cost?" Munoz wrote.
"McCain’s laissez-faire sentiments would actually destroy U.S. jobs, lower personal income, devastate U.S. vessel-operating companies and obliterate American shipbuilders, never mind the national security impact," he added.
Economist Bryan Riley and Brian Slattery, research assistant at The Heritage Foundation, wrote an opinion piece for The Daily Signal
defending McCain's actions.
"Americans in most states would benefit from the freedom to ship goods on the best-built, most affordable vessels, wherever they are made," Riley and Slattery wrote.
"The Jones Act drives up the price of gas, hinders U.S. infrastructure improvements, inflicts high costs on people in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and makes it difficult to transship goods between U.S. ports," they added.
"Senator McCain's Jones Act amendment would promote competition, strengthen the economy, and benefit American consumers."
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