Friday, August 25, 2006

Legislative Update 8/25/2006

Congress’ Returns to Unfinished Business.

When the House of Representatives and the Senate returns to work on September 5, members will have plenty of unfinished business to address. Though conferees have not been named on the House side for the Authorization bill, unofficially conference continues in earnest to complete work on a final compromise bill before the Oct. 6th targeted adjournment. The Appropriations bill is also behind schedule with the Senate expected to resume debate on the Defense Appropriations bill before the measure moves on to conference.

Though Congress is expected to adjourn on or around the October 6th deadline, that does not mean that work will be completed. As it is an election season, both parties will be trying to score political points before the November election. And with polls suggesting a possible change in leadership in either chamber, work on critical legislation may be put on hold until after the election. With the session in its final weeks, now is the time to take action! Your Member of Congress is at home in your district campaigning for the fall elections. Make a point to call or visit their local offices and urge support of National Guard issues. In the following section, NGAUS Alerts, you can find several of the top issues that NGAUS is working on Capitol Hill. Check it out and take action!

NGAUS Alerts.

NGAUS has issued several legislative alerts throughout the past several weeks in an effort to keep pressure on Congress to support Guard related issues. Each legislative alert is posted on the NGAUS website (www.ngaus.org) and includes directions on actions that you can take as well as letters that you can email, mail, or fax to your member of Congress.

Alert # 06-18: National Defense Enhancement and National Guard Empowerment Act of 2006.

Within the Senate version of the Authorization bill, legislation is included that would elevate the Chief of the Guard Bureau to a four-star position, would designate the Deputy Commander at NORTHCOM a Guard member, and establishes Guard service as a joint service. These provisions were added as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, which is currently in conference between the House and Senate. Contact your member of Congress and ask that this legislation be included in the final version of the Authorization Bill. It is imperative that the Guard have a seat at the table to impact decisions on behalf of the Army and Air National Guard.

Alert # 06-16: TRICARE.

The House version of the Authorization bill contains a measure that would enhance TRICARE access to all members of the National Guard. The provision would set a Guard members a premium cost-share of 28 percent while the Department of Defense would pay 72 percent of the premium regardless of duty status. Urge your Senator to support this language and keep it in the final bill.

Alert #06-13: Section 511 of the Defense Authorization Bill.

Another item included within H.R. 5122, the House version of the defense authorization bill, is a provision that would allow the President to federalize National Guard members during a “serious natural or man-made disaster, accident or catastrophe that occurs in the United States, its territories and possessions, or Puerto Rico,” without prior consultation with the governor. This would allow the federal government to control National Guard members during times when governors will need those troops most, thereby negating the inherent line of authority from governor to adjutant general to individual Army and Air National Guard members. The National Guard Association of the United States is strongly opposed to Section 511 of H.R. 5122. Conference committee members should be made aware of the dangerous precedent set by section 511 of H.R. 5122 and be asked to oppose it.

Alert #06-12: Joint Cargo Aircraft.

The House version of the Authorization bill includes funding for the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program while the Senate does not. NGAUS supports the House language that funds JCA. As you know, the Army National Guard is scheduled to field the JCA to replace aging and lesser performing C-23 and C-26 aircraft. The National Guard Bureau is also promoting the JCA as a follow-on mission for Air National Guard wings that will lose aircraft as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). When not deployed in support of the Global War on Terror or other contingencies, these aircraft will be available for state missions such as disaster response and homeland security needs. This system is critical for states and units around the country who have need for this capability. Write your member of Congress on this important issue.

NGAUS Task Forces.
NGAUS has established Task Forces as a mechanism to provide advice and expertise to the NGAUS legislative staff in development of legislative priorities based on the resolutions that are passed each year at the annual conference. Task Forces will be meeting at the 128th NGAUS General Conference in Albuquerque on Sunday, September 17 at 1300 hours. If you are interested in attending a task force meeting, let us know! NGAUS has eleven Task Forces and they are listed below:

Joint Task Forces.
Personnel/Benefits
Medical Task Force

Army Task Forces.
Fire Support Task Force
Combat Vehicle Task Force
Combat Support/Combat Service Support Task Force
Army Aviation Task Force
C4I Task Force
Engineer Task Force

Air Task Forces.
Airlift/Tanker/Rescue
Fighter Task Force
C4I Task Force

The Task Forces are comprised of Chairs and Vice Chairs and are expected to meet two times a year. NGAUS is seeking interested volunteers to serve on the Task Forces. If you are interested, contact the NGAUS legislative staff or contact the Task Force Chairs listed on our website.

“We Serve”

Providing NGAUS members with effective and knowledgeable representation on Capitol Hill.

Published by the NGAUS Legislative Staff:

Brig Gen (ret) Richard M. Green, Legislative Director
Scott Hommel, Deputy Director
Michele Traficante, Joint Programs
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Andy Vanlandingham, Air Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst
Emily Breitbach, Legislative Analyst
.


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