Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., is trying for the 13th year to rename the Navy Department as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. (MC1 Mavis Tillman / Navy)
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A North Carolina congressman's battle to change the Navy Department's name has entered its 13th year — and this time, he's "cautiously optimistic" the effort will succeed.
Since 2001, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., whose district includes Camp Lejeune and two Marine Corps air stations, has regularly introduced legislation to rename the Navy Department as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.
The bill received 218 bipartisan co-sponsors in the last congressional session but never made it to the floor for a vote.
This year, Jones introduced the renaming legislation — HR 124 — on Jan. 3.
Some points in its favor: An outspoken opponent of the bill, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, didn't seek re-election to his Senate seat. Jones also hopes to leverage his friendship with prospective Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to help the issue gain mainstream attention.
"When a young Marine dies, the family receives a letter from the Secretary of the Navy with the Navy flag," Jones said. "The Marine Corps has earned the right to be seen as an equal in name, and that's what this is all about."