Because it's an island, many lifesaving supplies will arrive by boat.
On Thursday, the White House authorized a 10-day waiver of the Jones Act, a federal law that limits shipping to U.S. ports by foreign vessels.
McCain sent a letter to the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, on Tuesday arguing the Jones Act should be suspended for good.
Meanwhile, despite agitation from powerful members in Congress to get rid of the law entirely so we don't keep having these debates after hurricanes, it's likely to stay on the books. The Jones Act has also been suspended by former President George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and by former President Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Jones Act limits shipping between coasts to USA flagged vessels.
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Maria, the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in almost 90 years, caused widespread flooding and damage to homes and infrastructure. They either have to pay tariffs for landing at a US port, or they would have to go to Florida first to drop off their goods with a Puerto Rico-bound USA ship.
The act is a bane to Puerto Rico. "We are USA citizens". On the call, DHS officials said the request was being acted on. The island relies heavily on ports.
A group of Puerto Rico creditors said on Wednesday they hoped the island receives the government assistance necessary to allow it a "speedy recovery", after Maria threw the island's financial future into even greater limbo.
Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, an office of Homeland Security, said in a statement on Tuesday that an agency assessment showed there was "sufficient capacity" of US -flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico.
This spring, the Trump administration sided with the oil industry in withdrawing an Obama-era proposal that required companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to use more USA ships and crews.
Why the law still exists: Sen.
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The law applies to all USA ports and has been a frequent source of tension between the US maritime industry and its customers. And that may be enough of a reason.
Trump, who plans to visit the island Tuesday, said Wednesday that he was studying the matter, but that the US shipping industry was opposed to waiving the law.
Republicans Senator John McCain and Representative Gary Palmer have supported measures to repeal the Jones Act.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the commander of U.S. Army North, will "serve as the Department of Defense's primary liaison" to FEMA as the Pentagon shifts from running relief operations primarily from the sea to mostly ashore, U.S. Northern Command said Thursday in a statement.
"It's a classic residual program that has concentrated benefits to a few and widely diffused costs to the many", Miller said.
President Trump was criticised for spending the weekend focusing on a feud with National Football League players and coaches, instead of the Puerto Rico disaster.
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Puerto Rico's devastated infrastructure and a shortage of truck drivers is making it hard to move aid where it is needed most - evident by the more than 9,500 containers of relief supplies now stranded on Puerto Rico's main port of San Juan. Trump even appeared to be unclear on how far away Puerto Rico is from the mainland United States, saying there's "a very big ocean" rescuers have to cross to get there.