With only a few legislative days left to avoid a government shutdown, Congressman Steve Israel is proposing legislation that will ensure United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) midshipmen can continue attending classes in the event of a shutdown. The Midshipmen Education Certainty Act would automatically appropriate funding to USMMA for the duration of a government shutdown.
If Congress does not pass a bill to fund the government by Oct. 1, the government will shut down and USMMA will be forced to close its doors for the second time in two years.
“Our midshipmen, who have committed themselves to serving our country, should not have to be faced with the risk of not graduating on time because of a government shutdown, which is no fault of their own. With only days left until another government shutdown, my common-sense legislation would ensure that USMMA classes continue regardless of an irresponsible shutdown,” said Rep. Israel.
“A government shutdown not only forces us to close our doors and send midshipmen home, it also disrupts our academic calendar and jeopardizes the chances of our seniors graduating on time and beginning their careers,” said Jim Tobin, president of the USMMA Alumni Association & Foundation. “I thank Congressman Israel for introducing this legislation and hope that even if Congress
shuts down our government, our students will not be adversely affected.”
During the last government shutdown, which lasted more than two weeks in October 2013, USMMA was forced to completely close and send students home. This closure had a significant impact on USMMA’s educational calendar, and if the government shutdown had continued for a prolonged period, members of the senior class would have been at risk of not being able to complete their coursework and graduate on time.
In 2013, the other four Service Academies—U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy—were able to remain open during the government shutdown due to their active duty military presence on staff, who were able to continue working under the Pay Our Military Act. While the civilian instructors were furloughed, the active duty military personnel were able to step in and continue teaching classes. However, since there are very few active duty military personnel at the USMMA, this was not a viable option.