Biden Supports Jones Act Shipping With New "Buy American" Order

american pride
File image courtesy Crowley Maritime

Published Jan 25, 2021 2:03 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order strengthening federal "buy American" requirements. The order explicitly emphasizes the importance Jones Act shipping - a rare presidential endorsement for the U.S. maritime sector within days of the start of the new administration. 

The order will close loopholes that allow federal agencies to buy foreign-made products, strengthening domestic content requirements and price preference thresholds; creates a new position - Director of Made-in-America at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) - to manage "buy American" compliance; cracks down on the use of waivers to evade these requirements; orders agencies to actively seek out and connect with small and midsize domestic suppliers;  and directs a government-wide review of every agency's compliance with "buy American" rules. 

"The President will continue to be a strong advocate for the Jones Act and its mandate that only U.S.-flag vessels carry cargo between U.S. ports, which supports American production and America’s workers," Biden's team wrote in the order. "With the signing of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the Jones Act has also been affirmed as an opportunity to invest in America’s workers as we build offshore renewable energy, in line with the President’s goals to build our clean energy future here in America."

The exact text of the order has not yet been released, but America's maritime industry moved quickly to applaud the Biden administration's recognition of the value of Jones Act shipping.

“We applaud President Biden and his administration for moving aggressively to grow the U.S. maritime industry. Working together we will put America on a road to recovery and prosperity,” said Tom Crowley, Chairman and CEO, Crowley Maritime Corporation.

“With this Order, American Maritime will have greater confidence for the next several years to make investments in American vessels and maritime infrastructure while furthering environmental stewardship, efficiency and support of our homeland and national security objectives," said American Maritime Partnership President Mike Roberts. 

"OMSA applauds the Administration for including strong statements in support of the Jones Act—especially support for the Jones Act as it relates to offshore wind energy construction," said Aaron Smith, the president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association. "The Administration is also correct when it says that we must close loopholes in the laws that protect American workers from unfair international competition."

"The ‘Buy American’ Executive Order issued today by President Biden will prioritize American innovation, ingenuity and craftsmanship that are pivotal to our national and economic security. Essential national and domestic security industries like the U.S. shipyard sector, and the maritime defense industrial base, will grow stronger because of the actions taken today, ensuring the future of America is made in America," said Matthew Paxton, President of the Shipbuilders Council of America.