The following is the text of a letter from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association & Foundation:
(KINGS POINT, N.Y.) — Kings Pointers, Parents, Family and Friends:
As you know, Kings Point has been closed due to the shut down of Congress. However, legislation was passed which is keeping USNA, USMA, USAFA, and USCGA open. Inadvertently, USMMA was not included in this legislation.
A technical correction MUST be made to this legislation to get funding for Kings Point, as it was for the other Academies. To make this happen requires OUR letting our Senators and Congressmen know to support the correction – which is a bill being introduced by Senator John Boozman (Arkansas).
Please contact your Senators and Congressmen right away and urge them to support Senate Bill – S.1568. If you run into roadblocks (staff furloughed), please use all other methods available.
Find your Senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Find your Congressman: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Senator John Boozman (AR), a member of the USMMA Board of Visitors, has introduced the Pay Our Military Technical Corrections Act (S. 1568).
S. 1568 would provide a technical correction — a minor fix — to an oversight in the Pay Our Military Act (P.L. 113-39). The Pay Our Military Act was passed and enacted on September 30, 2013 to ensure that servicemen and women would continue to be paid during a shutdown of the federal government. The Pay Our Military Act made accommodation for the Coast Guard Academy (even though it is a part of DHS, not DOD). The bill also enabled continued operation at West Point, USAFA, and the Naval Academy. However, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) was unintentionally left out of this bill.
We strongly emphasize that S. 1568 provides a minor technical correction to oversight; it helps USMMA midshipmen (Naval Reservists) and addresses USMMA in the same manner as the other federal service academies were addressed.
• Midshipmen at USMMA are Naval Reservists, with a sworn military commitment upon graduation. Approximately 1/3 of graduates go active duty. The other 2/3 have an eight-year obligation to serve the Naval Reserve (meeting the Navy’s Military Sealift Command requirements.) The matriculation rate at USMMA is set in cooperation with the Navy to ensure that personnel needs are met each Spring.
Some have argued that the Academy is not yet in a crisis, because they can take extraordinary measures to mitigate the shutdown, but the crisis is already here:
• USMMA has a 12-month academic year (if it gets off-cycle, there will be serious consequences);
• USMMA has moved Fall Break to this week, but any further options are very problematic. The Academy could, theoretically, cancel their Spring Break, but further changes would require renegotiations of contracts with the Faculty Union.
• Once again, our federal service academies are not on an even footing, and the midshipmen (many of whom do not have the means to reschedule break travel) cannot understand why DHS’s Coast Guard Academy was captured in Pay Our Military, while USMMA was not.
Any support that can be provided to help secure cosponsors – particularly Democratic cosponsors – would be helpful. We are working to see this legislation pass the Senate by unanimous consent. In order to facilitate this effort, it would be helpful for Democratic Senators to let Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (Maryland) know of their support for advancing the legislation.
Many of you sit on the Nominations Committees for Members of Congress, please contact your Members and urge them to support this bill.