New Legislation for the USMMA Board of Visitors

by | Thursday, March 27, 2014 | 0 comment(s)

Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has introduced new legislation that would enhance the oversight Board supervising the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).

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.

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