Thursday morning, President Trump allowed much needed aid to finally arrive to the island of Puerto Rico. President Trump released a waiver of the Jones Act to allow merchant ships to deliver the desperately needed aid to the hurricane ravaged territory Thursday morning. The Jones Act restricts shipments between U.S. ports to be made by U.S. ships. The President allowed for this waiver in the wake of severe criticism of the administration's lack of action in addressing the disaster relief needs of the U.S Territory.

Are Puerto Ricans US Citizens?

Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last week, aid has been slow to reach those most effected by the damage. A Morning Consult Poll recently found that nearly half of Americans did not know that Puerto Ricans were US citizens. As the debate on whether or not federal aid should be delivered to Florida and Texas were relatively short, this prolonged action seems to be too late. Carmen Yulín Cruz Mayor of San Juan, said that the waiver will drive down prices of the much needed supplies, however that a bigger problem was the idle waiting shipping containers waiting at port. According to The Hill, Cruz called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the governor to release the supplies to bigger and closer distribution centers.

Humanitarian Crisis

More importantly, the current situation in Puerto Rico will not be alleviated by a waiver to allow for merchant ships to deliver goods. The island is in desperate need of resupplying their citizens with more necessities; a waiver of the Jones Act will do little to augment that. The problem is not shipping its distribution.

The question becomes a matter of how long can the island endure the aftermath of Hurricane Maria before a full blown humanitarian crisis is reached.

Katrina 2.0?

If the President fails to act and deliver on his promises to increase federal aid to the Carribean island, he runs the risk of repeating a previous president's mistakes.

George W. Bush was severely criticized for his apparent mishandling of New Orleans after Katrina. President Trump, who is on the ropes after a disastrous healthcare legislation bout, needs the support of Congress as he positions his tax reform plan. Trump needs positive results from both the Puerto Rico disaster relief and Congressional Republicans to make headway into the midterm elections later this year. The hurricane season is still underway, and hopefully the president is able to weather the storm.