AWO Statement: New Executive Order Affirms Support for Jones Act

Below is the text of a member alert AWO sent to members on January 26, 2021.
Dear AWO Members,

Yesterday afternoon, President Biden signed an Executive Order, “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers,” that aims to strengthen Buy American requirements and support American manufacturers, businesses, and workers. Significantly, the Executive Order explicitly affirms the Administration’s commitment to the Jones Act, which is the only law to be singled out by name among the EO’s numerous references to “Buy American” and “Made in America” laws. The order establishes a Made in America office within the Office of Management and Budget tasked with ensuring that federal agencies comply with Buy American and Made in America requirements and establishes a rigorous review process for Buy America waivers, specifically defined to include Jones Act waivers.

In signing the order, the President publicly stated, “The Executive Order I am taking also reiterates my strong support for the Jones Act and American vessels and ports.” A White House Fact Sheet describing the order states:

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. 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 January 1 enactment of the NDAA provision clarifying the applicability of U.S. laws, including the Jones Act, to renewable energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf was a top advocacy priority for AWO and the American Maritime Partnership and a landmark advocacy achievement for the domestic maritime industry as the 116th Congress came to a close.

While then-candidate Biden had pledged his support for the Jones Act during the Presidential campaign last summer, inclusion of explicit language affirming the President’s support for the Jones Act in an Executive Order during his first week in office is unprecedented. AWO joined other maritime stakeholders in praising the Administration’s action and released a statement saying:

As the national trade association for the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry, The American Waterways Operators commends President Biden for reaffirming his strong support for the Jones Act in the opening days of his administration. The Jones Act is the foundation for every dollar AWO member companies invest in American-built vessels and every job they provide for Americans across the country. We look forward to working with the President and his team to strengthen the American maritime industry, which is crucial to our national, homeland and economic security.

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden’s nominee for Transportation Secretary, also affirmed his support for the Jones Act at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee last Thursday.

AWO looks forward to working with the Biden Administration and bipartisan Members of the 117th Congress to strengthen and support the domestic maritime industry through legislation and policy in the coming years, including robust support for port and waterways infrastructure.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.




Jennifer A. Carpenter
President & CEO
The American Waterways Operators