The Trump administration says it is not planning to waive federal restrictions on foreign ships' transportation of cargo to Puerto Rico and other areas affected by Hurricane Maria, as it did following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security says officials believe there is sufficient capacity of U.S.-flagged vessels to move goods to Puerto Rico. Spokesman David Lapan said most of the humanitarian shipments to Puerto Rico will be through barges, which make up a significant portion of the U.S.-flagged cargo fleet.
DHS waived Jones Act restrictions during Harvey and Irma in order to move oil more quickly to the East Coast and make up for the loss of pipelines.
New York Rep Nydia Velazquez had asked for a Jones Act waiver for Maria.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump was finally tweeting about Puerto Rico — but his message may not be well-received by residents struggling with the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
Trump says in a trio of tweets Monday night that "Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble."
Trump says the island's electrical system was "devastated" and much of the island "was destroyed." He's also noting Puerto Rico owes "billions of dollars" to "Wall Street and the banks" which, he says, "sadly, must be dealt with."
He says food, water and medicine are top priorities, and adds the words "doing well."
His administration is facing steep criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short.
Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
...It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
...owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well. #FEMA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017