By CHRIS MOODY, The Daily Caller – Hawaii Republican Rep. Charles Djou became the latest member of Congress to publicly criticize President Obama for not allowing foreign ships into the Gulf of Mexico to help with the clean-up effort of the BP oil spill.
Djou called on the administration to temporarily suspend the Jones Act, which bars foreign ships from engaging in transporting goods to and from American ports. According to a clause in the statute, the president can waive the law on an emergency and temporary basis.
“I agree with the president that our nation’s top priority in addressing the Gulf accident is to stop the leak, clean up the mess and hold BP accountable. I am disappointed, however, that the president has failed to waive the Jones Act for foreign ships, who want to assist in the clean-up efforts,” said Djou in a statement. “There is no good reason to turn away international help in responding to this environmental catastrophe.”
Many vessels that fly foreign flags have offered their ships and manpower for clean-up efforts, but they cannot operate in American waters with full capacity unless they receive a waiver. To date the United States has only accepted equipment loans from foreign nations, which is not prohibited under the law.
Djou has advocated for reform of the 90-year-old law throughout his political career. As an island state that relies heavily upon shipping to receive goods, the anti-competitive Jones Act keeps prices in Hawaii artificially high, Djou said. He is a member of a growing list of voices in Washington calling for a temporary suspension of the law.