Reaching Out to Lawmakers
By J. MICHAEL McGRATH, National President
On Jan. 20, the historic and
peaceful transition of power
in the United States — from
President George W. Bush to
President Barack Obama — captured the attention of the world.
All eyes were fixed on Washington
as more than 1. 5 million people
flooded the National Mall to bear
witness and celebrate.
But as the pomp and circumstance faded and a new day
dawned, lawmakers on both sides
of the political aisle rolled up their
sleeves and began crafting relationships with the new administration
and with each other. It was time to
get to work on behalf of their constituents.
And it is time for Navy Leaguers to review and
refresh their relationship with these lawmakers on
behalf of the men and women in the sea services.
As you know, legislative affairs is one of my top priorities as your National President. The Navy League’s
Grassroots Legislative Initiative remains our best
means of raising our lawmakers’ awareness of what our
men and women in uniform need — in dollars and legislation — to accomplish their missions.
This critical outreach program envisions that Navy
Leaguers will contact at least 60 percent of all members
of the Senate and House of Representatives and carry
to them our concerns about the size of the Navy, the
need for adequate and timely funding for the Coast
Guard’s Deepwater modernization effort, and the
imperative to “reset” the Marine Corps.
Our efforts have met with some success, but much
remains to be done in pursuit of our ultimate goal to
contact every member of Congress.
Last December, 43 representatives and 18 senators
wrote letters to then President-elect Obama urging
support for robust budgets for the Navy, Marine Corps,
Coast Guard and commercial ship construction.
The House members’ letter noted, for example,
that “such budgets would stimulate the economy by
creating highly skilled jobs, strengthen our national
and homeland security, assist in attaining energy
independence, and modernize and expand our
domestic marine transportation
It also urged a minimum national requirement for 313 battle-force
ships, modern Coast Guard assets to
support an ever-expanding mission
portfolio and $60 million annually
for the Title XI Ship Loan Guarantee
Program. Do those talking points
sound familiar? They parallel our
Maritime Policy and our Grassroots
Legislative Initiative presentations.
These two letters to the president
of the United States — inked by 40
Democrats and 21 Republicans —
echoed the Navy League’s message.
To see the House letter, visit
www.navyleague.org. Take note of the signatories, as the
letter could be used to stimulate dialogue with the participating lawmakers to whom we have yet to reach out.
For Navy Leaguers who have been actively involved
in the grassroots program, this is a fruit of your labor. It
shows that you can make a difference; you can state your
case to the most powerful decision-makers in the land.
With budget deliberations under way in the face of
dire economic news, now is the time to be heard, to reiterate the sea services’ mission and funding requirements.
On Jan. 15, I sent a letter to members of Congress urging
them to work with the new administration to ensure that
any public works economic stimulus package includes
funding for “shovel-ready” Navy, Marine Corps and
Coast Guard military construction projects, and to support the shipbuilding industry. My letter also can be
found at www.navyleague.org.
We have 65 freshman members of the 111th
Congress with whom we can craft a new and potentially lasting relationship focused on the needs of our
Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant
Mariners. Let’s get it done!
One Mission — One Team