By VOICES Staff.
On February 2, the Washington State Senate passed a resolution, which recognizes the vital role of the Jones Act in the state’s economy and national security. The Jones Act, which was authored by then-U.S. Senator for Washington State Wesley Jones, requires that vessels transporting cargo between U.S. locations be American-built, American-owned and American-crewed – a boon for U.S. national and economic security.
The bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Senator Karen Keiser (D) and co-sponsored by Senator Mark Schoesler (R), emphasizes the critical role of the Jones Act in cultivating a robust American Maritime that is essential to the state and country. The resolution also notes that Washington is home to an estimated 22,500 jobs supported by the Jones Act, and the American Maritime fleet supports nearly 650,000 family-wage jobs nationwide.
“It was an honor to have so many members of the maritime community join us in Olympia as we celebrated the legacy of the Jones Act and recognized the importance and history of the maritime industries to our state’s economy and culture,” said Senator Keiser of Washington’s 33rd Legislative District, during her floor speech celebrating the bill’s passage.
The Jones Act fleet contributes over $154 billion in economic output nationally and $6.1 billion to Washington’s economy, according to the latest statistics by the American Maritime Partnership. The impact goes beyond the men and women who work aboard vessels in the area, as it also includes shipbuilding and ship repair industries as well as America’s equipment manufacturers and vendors, dredgers and marine construction contractors. The resolution also noted that the pandemic has raised the “critical importance of maintaining resilient domestic industries and transportation services to the citizens and workforce of Washington state.”
Peter Schrappen, Vice President – Pacific Region of the American Waterways Operators (AWO), commented, “The Jones Act is the foundational law that makes it possible for American maritime to make these and many other contributions to Washington’s economy, security, environment and quality of life.” Schrappen went on to say that American Maritime, including the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, is a critical economic engine and a committed leader in environmental sustainability in Washington State and across the United States.
In addition, the Jones Act helps to ensure the nation’s security by maintaining a domestic maritime industry capable of providing support to the military in times of conflict or national emergency. This is particularly important for a state like Washington, which is home to major naval bases, including Naval Base Kitsap, Naval Station Everett and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, to name a few, all of which provide important support to the Pacific Fleet and the services both in peace and war.
Given the current tensions with China after the U.S. military took down a Chinese spy balloon, maintaining a strong Pacific Northwest keeps the United States ready in the event of a conflict.
The Washington State resolution is the latest of several state resolutions that have passed in recent months recognizing the Jones Act for its role as a crucial pillar of the nation’s economic and national security. Supporters say the resolution is also a testament to its enduring importance to Washington State and an affirmation of Sen. Jones’ legacy.