| Thursday, March 27, 2014 |
Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has introduced new legislation that
would enhance the oversight Board supervising the United States Merchant Marine
The USMMA is a federal service academy serving the United States
by training merchant mariners and military officers to meet essential national
sealift needs. Boozman was appointed
during the 112th Congress by Vice President, Joe Biden, to serve on
the USMMA Board of Visitors, which is the official oversight Board of the
academy. Boozman’s new legislation, the
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Board of Visitors Enhancement Act, S. 2076, will
better the Board’s ability to perform critical oversight responsibilities.
Said Boozman, "The USMMA is a vital institution that trains
the men and women, including Arkansans, who ensure our country can extend its
reach across the oceans. In today's
world, the United States needs trained merchant mariners who it can call upon
during times of emergency, natural disaster, or foreign conflict. The Board of
Visitors should help the Academy meet this need, and it should ensure that the
Academy provides a first-rate experience to the midshipmen who have volunteered
to serve our country in uniform."
Current law creates a Board for the USMMA; however, unlike the
U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, the law does not structure
the Board properly to perform oversight duties. The existing law for the USMMA also does not ensure that the Board
receive support from the Department of Transportation, which operates the
USMMA. Additionally, the current law
does not provide a seat at the table for certain key stakeholders (alumni, the
armed forces, maritime shipping industry, etc.).
Boozman’s new legislation expands the Board to include
non-Congressional stakeholders, and it also establishes seats on the Board for
at least two USMMA alumni and one representative from the shipping
industry. The legislation guarantees the
operation of a functional Board by ensuring the prompt filling of vacancies,
and allowing Board members to continue serving until replaced or
re-nominated. Boozman’s bill ensures
that the Department of Transportation will organize annual Board visits to the
USMMA and allow full access.
The bill is being
co-sponsored by Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Mark Warner (D-VA), who are themselves
members of the Board of Visitors.