U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii spoke on the Senate floor Friday in opposition to a proposed amendment that Hirono’s office says would “dismantle” the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the Jones Act.

The Jones Act requires maritime vessels engaged in shipping goods between U.S. ports “to be built in the United States, at least 75 percent owned by United States citizens, and operated by United States citizens,” according to the senator’s office.

In her floor remarks, Hirono argued that the act “provides solid, well-paying jobs for nearly half a million Americans from Virginia to Hawaii” and “promotes national security and American job creation.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono talks to group of VA staff after the end of a Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee Field Hearing at the Oahu Veterans Center on August 19, 2014.

Sen. Mazie Hirono talks to a group of VA staff after the end of a Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee Field Hearing at the Oahu Veterans Center on Aug. 19, 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Hirono said she was “unclear” why some of my colleagues are opposed to what she deemed to be a “common-sense law.”

The amendment was filed earlier this week by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

In a press release, McCain said, ““I have long advocated for a full repeal of The Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers.”

McCain, the new chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, said his amendment would eliminate the act’s “unnecessary, protectionist restriction.”

It’s unclear whether McCain’s amendment will receive a vote. Locally, the Jones Act has long been supported by most Democrats and labor groups but opposed by most Republicans and some businesses.

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