Navy Leaguers Bring Sea Service Concerns to Congress During Fly In
By PETER ATKINSON, Interim Editor In Chief
WASHINGTON — Navy Leaguers from around the country “flew in” to Capitol Hill Nov. 16 for meetings and briefings with members of Congress from their respective regions to stress the need for their support of the U.S. sea services and the maritime industry.
Split into more than two-dozen teams, 73 Navy League representatives made 210 presentations to senators, representatives or their staffs during the “Anchors Aweigh Fly In.” The event was organized by the Navy League’s Legislative Affairs committee and staff. Conducted every other year, this was the Navy League’s third Fly In.
“It’s about the sea services. We are a maritime nation and Navy League is here if full force supporting them,” said Navy League National President Alan Kaplan. “We’ve got an energized group here. This is a big part of our mission, this is advocacy on the part of our sea services.”
The “Anchors Aweigh Fly In” presentations highlighted the sea services’ role as the first line of defense for the nation; Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag merchant marine priorities; and keeping the seas safe for global commerce to ensure global economic stability. Opposition to the Budget Control Act and continuing resolutions (CRs) also were major talking points. The current CR expires Dec. 8.
More specifically the briefings addressed: supporting budget stability and rejecting all sequestration-level caps; increasing the Navy’s top line to fully fund its 355-ship goal and other priorities; recapitalizing aging Marine Corps aircraft; raising the Coast Guard’s Acquisition, Construction and Improvements budget to $2 billion per year, and funding operations at 5 percent per year growth; enforcing and protecting cargo preference laws, the Jones Act, the Maritime Security program and training ships; and investing in readiness and training for all sea services.
With President Donald J. Trump on the Hill for the Republican Conference and a vote on the House of Representatives’ tax cut package scheduled for the afternoon, it was a rather hectic day. But Fly In participants were able to have their voices heard.
“Everybody is busy today, but we’ve been meeting with as many people as we possibly can, and they have been very receptive,” said Hawaii Area President Donald A. Morrison, who teamed with Paul L’Ecuyer and Pasha Baker.
“Everyone we met with has been very attentive and listened to us, it’s been very, very good so far,” said Brett Nelson of the Denver Council, who teamed with Joanne Nelson and Rocky Mountain Region President Stephen Kelly.
“They know the situation,” added Kelly. “Our bottom line bullets are that CRs are disruptive and sequestration should be eliminated. Many of them are aware that it presents a difficult situation, so they are sympathetic on that count.”
“Its impressive to see on a staff level to see that the message about the importance of the sea services are having an effect,” said Ward Cook, Central Area president and Midwest regional vice president for Legislative Affairs. “It’s not just rhetoric that you hear, they are actually taking it seriously.
“It shows what we have been doing is paying off and our voice is being heard. This is why we’re up here, this is why we’re having 200 meetings today to try to get the word about the great job that our sea services do every day and how important it is. It’s not only important to those folks on both coasts, it’s important in the Midwest as well. It’s good to know that this story is getting out there.”