Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman John Sarbanes (3rd District of Maryland)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Anthony Brown (both D-Md.) in introducing new bicameral legislation to secure the U.S. Service Academy nominations of states and congressional districts that lack representation in Congress due to the death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting member of Congress. After the passing of Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings in 2019, the delegation was dismayed to learn that the Congressional District’s allotted service academy openings were revoked, leaving the students in that district with fewer opportunities to seek appointment to one of our federal service academies. The lawmakers’ new legislation, the SERVE Act, would fix this issue and ensure that future students are not denied this opportunity. They were joined in introducing the legislation by Senator Ben Cardin and Congressmen Kweisi Mfume, Jamie Raskin, Dutch Ruppersberger and David Trone (all D-Md.).
“Attending one of our federal service academies is an honor and a privilege, and for many students across our state, it is a life-long dream. Securing one of these nominations is highly competitive, and every Maryland student deserves an equal chance to access this opportunity. This legislation will help ensure that a Congressional vacancy does not stand in the way of our students achieving their dreams and serving their country,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Nominating young women and men to our exemplary military service academies is an important responsibility for members of Congress and one I take very seriously after 30-years of service. Military service is a rewarding career path for young people looking to cultivate leadership, technical and other key skills that will serve them well both in and out of uniform,” said Congressman Brown. “We need to make sure no qualified candidates looking to serve our country go overlooked by creating a process to ensure a consistent number of nominations for state delegations, in the event of a Congressional vacancy. We all share the same mission to educate talented young people interested in service to our country. This legislation would help keep that mission on track.”
“For young Americans with hopes of serving in our nation’s military, a military service academy nomination is an honor and a crucial first step in their education,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I am pleased to support this legislation, which will ensure this opportunity is equally available to the most qualified, exceptional candidates regardless of a congressional vacancy. This legislation will help more Americans attend our military service academies and pursue careers in service to our country.”
Currently, in the case of the death, resignation, or removal from office of a Senator or Representative, the former Senator or Representative’s service academy nominations are revoked, reducing the number of available nominations for applicants from that state or district, and placing applicants at a disadvantage relative to their peers in other states or districts. Under the Service Education Reallocation for Vacant Elected offices (SERVE) Act, in the event that a Senate or House seat is vacant, and the swearing-in for the new Senator or Representative will take place after the deadline to submit nominations to the service academies, the former Senator or Representative’s nominations would be reallocated to the Senators (or remaining Senator) from the same state. In the case of a former Representative, the Senators from the same state would receive the nomination slots, but be required to give those nominations to applicants from the former Representative’s district.
The text of the legislation is available here.