Voice to Congress

Legislative Affairs Weekly Round-Up – May 15
May 15, 2020 by Legislative Affairs

May 15, 2020
  Looking Ahead  
  For Those Who serve  

A few thoughts from our team: National Defense Transportation Day 

This week, the Navy League would like to join the White House, the Department of Defense, and every American employed in operating and maintaining our nation's critical infrastructure, in commemorating National Defense Transportation Day! 

On this important date, the White House has offered the following remarks: 

"Our Nation's transportation infrastructure system is central to the ability of our manufacturers and exporters to get their goods to market and provides vital support for our national defense. On National Defense Transportation Day and during National Transportation Week, we recognize the critical contributions of the hardworking and dedicated Americans who ensure the safety, efficiency, and reliability of our transportation infrastructure systems." 

We would like to ensure that among the rail workers, airport crew, and bridge and highway operators, we take time to also remember those who keep our sea and inland waterways safe and efficient. We commemorate the port workers who have kept supply lines open so we can receive lifesaving medicines and equipment. We commemorate the Coasties who protect our maritime borders from drug traffickers and international criminal organizations. We commemorate the Merchant Marines who spend months away from family and friends to protect America's economic interests across the globe. On this National Defense Transportation Day, let's say a big thank you to these brave and hardworking heroes! 


Council Activities 

A very special shout out to our Marin County Navy League Council for organizing an important discussion on "Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Maritime Environment". The event features guest speaker Lieutenant Commander Amanda Le Monde, Executive Officer of the National Strike Force's Pacific Strike Team.  

Thank you, Marin County Council, for educating our members and the wider community on the critical importance of a secure maritime environment safeguarded by our sea services! 

You can now view newsletters from previous weeks at our Voice to Congress site here: https://www.votervoice.net/NavyLeague/Blog

  Navy League Advocacy Updates  

Navy League Legislation Affairs Committee Members can view our updated Legislative Affairs Committee Page with all kinds of resources to support your grassroots advocacy!

Maritime Security Program COVID Support
Without assistance during this COVID-19 pandemic U.S.-flag vessel operators participating in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) will not be able to maintain laid-up vessels in the readiness status needed by the Department of Defense, and the licensed and unlicensed American merchant mariners will be facing protracted unemployment. Ask your Representative to sign a letter of support!

Navy Budget
As China takes advantage of the coronavirus crisis to escalate its bullying of its Vietnamese and Malaysian neighbors in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy is the best force capable of responding. The Navy is the surest guarantee of freedom of navigation on the worlds oceans and maintain the global movement of goods and services conducting crucial operations even as it has been hit hard and is focused on responding to the covid-19 crisis.

Speak up and tell congress the Navy must have a larger share of the defense budget in order to maintain readiness and expand the fleet to prepare for great power competition!

  Sea Service Updates  

The Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower Subcommitte said in an interview that an upcoming defense policy bill will likely endorse the plan to purchase two Columbia-class submarines and a second Virginia-class attack vessel. Congressman Joe Courtney stated that the 2021 NDAA will likely bolster shipbuilding priorities as a bipartisan consensus forms around a larger Naval fleet. 

President Trump voiced concerns over international supply chains related to the production of military war-fighting systems, specifically singling out the F-35 fighter jet. "The problem is if we have a problem with a country, you can't make the jet. We get parts from all over the place. It's so crazy. We should make everything in the United States" the President said in an interview on Fox Business. The Pentagon had no comment on the President's comments or if there were actually any plans to shift supply chains to domestic sources. 

Meanwhile, the Pentagon's industrial policy chief is leaving her role. Jennifer Santos, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy, will be moving to a new role with the Navy in which she will be working with Mr. James Geurts in support of Research, Development, and Acquisition projects.  

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your councils, as well as friends and potential Navy League members! 

BEAUFORT SEA, Arctic Circle (Mar. 07, 2020) -- The crew of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine, USS Connecticut (SSN 22), enjoys ice liberty after surfacing in the Arctic Circle during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2020. ICEX 2020 is a biennial submarine exercise which promotes interoperability between allies and partners to maintain operational readiness and regional stability, while improving capabilities to operate in the Arctic environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

NASHVILLE (May 14, 2020) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels honored frontline COVID-19 first responders and essential workers with formation flights over Nashville and Little Rock on May 14, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cody Hendrix/Released)

  Sea Service News  

The State of the Sea Services  

Hospital ship Mercy returning to San Diego Friday after assisting Los Angeles' COVID-19 response-SanDiegoUnionTribune/May14 

The San Diego-based hospital ship Mercy will return to its home port Friday after seven weeks in Los Angeles assisting with patients during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Northern Command said. 

New Marine Littoral Regiment, designed to fight in contested maritime environment, coming to Hawaii-MarineCorpsTimes/May14 

The Marine Corps is putting together a new force in Hawaii called the Marine Littoral Regiment that can operate inside a contested maritime environment and sink ships, according to Marine Corps Combat Development Command. 

This submarine just wrapped up a 30-month deployment-NavyTimes/May14 

While officials declined to say exactly what Florida was doing during the extensive time it was away, the boat "provided unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities, bringing mission flexibility and unparalleled stealth to the fighting force," the release states. 

*Special Coronavirus Coverage* 

DoD's inspector general has received almost 300 tips for coronavirus-related issues-MilitaryTimes/May14 

The Pentagon's inspector general has received almost 300 tips and opened more than 200 complaints as of May 11, according to the oversight plan. More than half of the complaints were for alleged violations of social distancing policy. 

Trump says he's mobilizing military to distribute potential coronavirus vaccine-TheHill/May14 

Trump said the mobilization process for distributing a vaccine is "starting now" to get a head start once it is finished, adding, "We will have a tremendous force because assuming we get it, then you have to distribute it." 

Republican lawmaker pushes back on DoD policy barring some coronavirus survivors from enlisting-MilitaryTimes/May12 

An Arizona Republican lawmaker is calling for the Defense Department to reconsider its coronavirus accessions policy, days after the Pentagon issued new guidance narrowing its ban on bringing COVID-19 survivors into the military to those who had been hospitalized for the disease. 

Great Power Competition 

Tensions with Iran and its proxies led to accelerated transfer of bases housing coalition troops to Iraqi forces-MilitaryTimes/May14 

An inspector general report detailed how tensions between Iran and its militia forces with the U.S. led to an accelerated transfer of several bases to Iraqi troops over force protection issues. 

US increases military pressure on China as tensions rise over pandemic-CNN/May15 

The US is upping military pressure on China amid increased tensions over the South China Sea and accusing Beijing of seeking to leverage the coronavirus pandemic to extend its sphere of influence in the region. 

USS McCampbell Transits Taiwan Strait Ahead of Taiwanese Presidential Inauguration-USNINews/May14 

"The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) conducted a Taiwan Strait transit May 13 (local time), in accordance with international law," Lt. Anthony Junco, a U.S. 7th Fleet spokesperson told USNI News. "The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows." 


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