Pentagon opposes popular legislation to rename Department of the Navy

The Pentagon is opposing a popular provision that would change the name of the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.

The provision, which Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has pushed for years, has a record 425 co-sponsors in the House and recently passed by unanimous consent as a standalone bill.

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Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Bob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Kan.), a former Marine, has introduced a similar provision in the Senate that has attracted 78 co-sponsors — more than enough to pass as a standalone bill or as part of the pending defense bills as an amendment.

In a letter released by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (D-Mich.), the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, called the effort to rename the Department of the Navy “unnecessary.”

“A re-designation could be viewed as more than symbolic, and could easily be misinterpreted as a step away from the heritage and tradition of a strong Navy and Marine Corps team,” Johnson wrote to Levin.

The Marine Corps is under the umbrella of the Navy Department. Jones and supporters of the change argue that not including the Marine Corps in the Navy Department’s formal name is a slight to the Marines who have fought and died for the United States.

In his letter to Levin, Johnson said the Navy and Marine Corps have been “one team led by one secretary” since 1798. Johnson also warned that the renaming would cost the Pentagon “several hundred thousand dollars a year over the next several years and would not enhance the standing or reputation of the Marine Corps.”

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Navy pilot, has been one of the strongest opponents to the change of the department’s name.

Asked recently if he backs the Jones measure, McCain, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, responded, “No. I don’t. That’s the Department of the Navy.”