Voice to Congress

Legislative Affairs Weekly Round-Up – May 22
May 22, 2020 by Legislative Affairs

May 22, 2020
  Looking Ahead  
  For Those Who serve  

A few thoughts from our team: National Maritime Day 

This week, the Navy League would like to join the White House, the Department of Defense, and our dedicated Merchant Mariners in celebrating National Maritime Day! 

This morning the Maritime Administration also hosted a virtual event to shine a spotlight on the Merchant Marine. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao reminded Americans that "In World War II, Merchant Mariners were an essential part of the war effort, and their casualty rate exceeded that of all the other armed forces" and that "our U.S. flag fleet is an integral part of our national security." Administrator RADM (Ret.) Mark Buzby also said the Merchant Marine has encountered and overcome crisis repeatedly in the past, from the Revolutionary War to two World Wars and beyond and in the midst of the COVID crisis he reemphasized "the Merchant Marine has always been there and has never faltered." General Stephen Lyons, Commander of the United States Transportation Command, joined in to remind us that "the United States is and always will be a maritime nation" dependent on sealift capabilities and Merchant Marines. These remarks were followed by representatives of the American Merchant Marine Veterans of WWII, including Dave Yoho who gave an impassioned speech on behalf of all his fellow Mariners who fell during the war. And even Mike Rowe, star of Dirty Jobs, stopped in to sing "Heave Ho!"


On this important date, the White House has offered the following remarks:
"Since the founding of our great Nation, we have relied on merchant mariners to deliver goods to market and strengthen our national security.  On National Maritime Day, we recognize the United States Merchant Marine for all it does to facilitate our commerce and protect our interests at sea."
While these comments from the Administration are welcomed by the Navy League and the wider Maritime community, it is important to understand that our U.S.-flag ships and Merchant Mariners are facing opposition from wealthy groups seeking to weaken our national security and diminish the Jones Act. We will be watching to ensure that the administration honors its commitment to our mariners and U.S.-flag fleet, and we will keep our members informed of any political efforts to undermine them.

On Maritime Day, we thank those Mariners for everything that they do to safeguard the security and prosperity of the United States of America and we reaffirm our commitment to stand with them. We hope you will join us!

Council Activities 

A very special shout out to our New York City Navy League Council for their hard work on #VirtualFleetWeekNYC! This innovative approach to Fleet Week amidst the difficulties of quarantine included such events as a virtual tour of the S.S. Laboon, a virtual tour of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, an instagram Marine Corps workout, and a Navy swearing in ceremony for 12 new recruits! 

Thank you, New York City 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!

Interested in helping the Navy League support the Sea Services in Congress? Last year our Navy League Advocates completed over 80 meetings nationwide, and over 250 during our biennial November fly-in. Join our Grassroots Legislative Initiative (GLI) training Tuesday, May 26 at 2pm ET by emailing rsimon@navyleague.org. You'll receive everything you need to become a fully prepared advocate, and build and capitalize on strong relationships with your Members of Congress and their staff to support our Sailors, Marines, Coasties and Mariners!

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 Senate confirmed Ambassador to Norway Kenneth Braithwaite as the new Secretary of the Navy. Braithwaite has derided a sullied culture within the Navy and has vowed to bolster trust of naval forces and their leadership.

CQ News reports the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced yesterday that the National Defense Authorization Act is a top priority for the Senate when they return for June, while Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said he has been in touch with Department of Defense officials about the impacts of the coronavirus on the armed forces. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) said appropriations markups could happen the third week of June, after the subcommittee chairs receive their allocations for fiscal year 2021 following the memorial day break.
Across the Capitol 29 Democrats from the House Progressive Caucus, led by their co-chairs, have asked House Armed Services Committee leadership to authorize a defense spending level well below last year's number. The lawmakers say that "Congress must remain focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic and distributing needed aid domestically."

A shooting at Naval Air Base Corpus Christi is being treated as an act of terrorism, according to the FBI. The incident, which occurred Thursday morning, resulted in injury to one sailor but luckily no fatalities. There initially were fears of an explosive device but after sweeping the area none was found.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 20, 2020) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, fly over Bancroft Hall as midshipmen toss their covers concluding the fifth swearing-in event for the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2020. The Class of 2020 graduated approximately 1,000 midshipmen during five swearing-in events and one virtual ceremony. The hat toss, now a traditional ending to the event, originated at the Naval Academy in 1912 as a symbolic and visual end to the four-year program. As the undergraduate college of our country's naval service, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dana D. Legg/Released)

  Sea Service News  

The State of the Sea Services
Navy's oldest operational warship breaks its days-at-sea record - The Hill/May 21
The USS Blue Ridge has been at sea for 69 days as of Thursday, the Navy said in a statement, breaking its previous record, set 48 years ago, of 64 days at sea during the Vietnam War.

Marine Corps May Replace Infantry M27s with the Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon - Military.com/May 21
The Marine Corps hasn't yet finished fielding M27 infantry automatic rifles to all its grunt units as their new standard service weapon, but it's already eying the Army's Next Generation Squad weapon as its next infantry rifle.

Marines trim Australia rotational force to 1,200 Marines due to coronavirus - Stars and Stripes/May 21
Fewer than half as many U.S. Marines than originally planned will rotate to Australia's Northern Territory for a training mission this summer that was cut short by the coronavirus, according to the Australian Minister of Defence.

New Coast Guard Icebreaker Remains on Tight Schedule - National Defense/May 21
The Coast Guard is continuing to modernize its fleet of icebreakers as peer adversaries ramp up their presence in the Arctic and improve their own ships. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to derail the service's effort.

Ford Prepares to Integrate Carrier Air Wing - Seapower Magazine/May 21
Although the Ford has conducted more than 3,000 catapult launches and arrested landings, those have been performed by test units, training squadrons, fleet replacement squadrons and other fleet squadrons. When CVW-8 comes aboard in early June, the ship and its air wing will be integrated as a warfighting team for the first time.
*Special Coronavirus Coverage*
Op-Ed: National Maritime Day Reflections in the Era of COVID-19 - Maritime Exec/May 21
As we celebrate Maritime Day, a new generation is preparing to graduate from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Even as they face an uncertain future, we know their service to the nation will be vital.

CNO, Commandant: Naval Forces Can Meet Today's Obligations, But 2021 Readiness At Risk With Pandemic - USNI News/May 21
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said today that current operational plans were written by the joint force 18 months ago "uninformed by COVID math" and that the Navy would find a way to meet its obligations. In fact, he said, the service has about 15 percent more underway assets today than its normal operating pattern in recent years, with more than 100 ships and submarines at sea today - including seven aircraft carriers and two amphibious ready groups (ARGs).

Doctors on the Theodore Roosevelt Feared Dozens Would Die in Coronavirus Outbreak - WSJ/May 21
'Get everyone off the ship,' aircraft carrier's medical team implored, as Capt. Brett Crozier called for rapid action.
Pentagon memo contradicts Esper's year-end coronavirus vaccine goal, per report - Military Times/May 20
Defense Secretary Mark Esper declared Friday that a government task force charged with developing a COVID-19 vaccine would have a widely available injection by the end of the year. But a leaked Pentagon memo shows that behind the scenes, senior leadership have been planning for the possibility that the services could be contending with coronavirus until well into next year.

Great Power Competition

China Dares Trump to Hit Back With Hong Kong Power Grab - Bloomberg/May 22
On the first day of China's biggest political event of the year, Xi sent a clear message to Donald Trump: We're going to do what we want in Hong Kong, and we're not scared of the consequences.Jinping



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