For eight years, U.S. Rep. Walter Jones has tried to get the United States Marine Corps the recognition he believes the branch deserves.
Jones, a Republican who represents North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District -- which includes Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point -- has introduced legislation in every congressional session since 2001 to rename the Department of the Navy.
On the first day of the 111th Congress, Jones relaunched his efforts, introducing a bill Tuesday
to redesignate the Department of the Navy as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. It has been referred to the House Armed Services
"There isn't a subordinate relationship between the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps," Jones said in a statement. "They are equivalent parts of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and it is time to recognize their equal status."
Jones' bill is symbolic, he said, of the Corps' role in defending the nation.
"(The bill) is about showing the nation the true meaning of the department and recognizing the overall importance of the Marine Corps to our national security," he said. "The Navy and the Marine Corps have operated as one entity for more than two centuries, and the H.R. 24 would ensure the name of the department they share exemplifies this fact."
The Corps has operated a component of the Navy since its creation in 1775.
Jones is seeking cosponsors for the legislation and likely will find a friend in Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, who represents the South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, which includes Beaufort County.
Wilson was among 152 members of the House who cosponsored Jones' attempt in 2007 to rename the Navy, and said he's likely to attach his name to Jones' latest bill.
"I am in support of this legislation because I believe it is a proper way to recognize the Marine Corps' heroic role in defending American freedoms," Wilson said. "The Marines have fought in every major conflict our nation has faced and earned a reputation among friend and foe alike as a professional fighting force of the highest caliber."
Wilson also was a cosponsor on a similar piece of legislation Jones drafted in 2005. None of Jones' bills has made it to the House floor for a vote. For its part, the Corps has remained silent about Jones' repeated attempts to officially recognize the branch in the formal name of the Department of the Navy.
"Right now it would be inappropriate to comment on the bill as it is only in its initial phase," said Lt. Joshua Diddams, spokesman for the Corps at Headquarters Marine Corps in Arlington, Va. "We try to stay out of political issues."