Tuesday, October 3, 2006

NGAUS Legislative Update: 9/29/2006

What’s Happening In Congress?

With the new fiscal year 2007 approaching rapidly, Congress is in a fury to finish up appropriations legislation and avoid a year-end omnibus spending bill. The Defense appropriations measure and the Homeland Security appropriations measure are most likely to clear prior to Oct. 1 avoiding this not so uncommon rush to clear the spending bills. Ideas are still generating on how to pass the remaining appropriations measures. Possible scenarios include a long-term continuing resolution, a stopgap spending measure, working through the holidays, or of course the multi-bill omnibus opposed by both sides of the aisle.

Defense Authorization Update.

Previously delaying the enactment was the possible attachment of unrelated provisions. House Speaker, Representative Dennis Hastert, wanted conferees to include language that would have simplified deporting and denying entry to illegal immigrant gang members and language that would have tightened security at courthouses and stiffened penalties for the intimidation of or attacking of court personnel. Late last night, Representative Hastert agreed to drop his demands. The conferees are expected to sign the conference report today, which will allow House Armed Services Chairman, Representative Duncan Hunter, to file the conference report.

National Guard Items of Interest in Defense Authorization.
-National Defense Enhancement and National Guard Empowerment Act of 2006 Alert #06-21)
-TRICARE access to all members of the National Guard (Alert #06-16)
-Presidential Reserve Call-up (Alert #06-13)
-Joint Cargo Aircraft (Alert #06-19)

Defense Appropriations Update.
Conferees have reached an agreement on the fiscal 2007 Defense Spending bill at a level of $447.4 billion dollars. Floor action is expected to be timely with Senate passage being the only task to clear. As soon as the Senate moves on this bill, the President is likely to sign the measure into law soon after.

Highlights of the Defense Spending.
-2.2 percent military pay raise.
-$5.7 billion total for pay and allowances for mobilized Reserve and Guard soldiers: These funds would also be used towards special pay levels, including imminent danger pay to active, Reserve and Guard soldiers who are deployed to support the war on terror.
-$2.9 billion toward replenishing the Guard’s equipment stock.
-$290 million in emergency funding explicitly for repairing and replacing National Guard and Reserve component equipment lost or damaged in the wars.

Replenishing of National Guard Equipment Stock.
Out of the $2.9 billion set aside for Guard equipment, approximately $2.4 billion comes directly from an amendment that Senator Bond and Senator Leahy included in the Senate version of the spending bill. $500 million of the nearly $3 billion will be secured to allow for the Guard to purchase vehicles, communications systems, and other miscellaneous gear that is essential to the Guard’s homeland security mission. Also, included in the bill is a provision that requires the Pentagon to provide to Congress a detailed accounting of the funding spent across the entire DoD budget to procure Guard equipment. This provision will ensure that the funds reach the appropriate accounts directed by Congress.

Overall the Defense Spending bill will provide $19.1 billion more than the fiscal 2006 appropriation and $4.1 billion less than the president requested. And, most important, it will substantially increase funding for the National Guard.

What’s Happening At NGAUS?

While one legislative cycle is winding down to the last few days, another one is approaching rapidly. Following the 128th General Conference, the NGAUS legislative staff is beginning the process of preparing the Legislative Objectives booklet, the legislative fact sheets, and the Congressional Red Book for the Fiscal Year 2008 budget cycle. Each year brings many new legislative accomplishments for NGAUS and even more legislative obstacles to overcome for the next year. The staff at NGAUS continues to focus on their mission to procure better equipment, standardized training, and a more combat ready National Guard force by petitioning Congress for the resources.

What Can You Do?

With the potential delay in passage of both the Defense Appropriations bill and the Defense Authorizations bill, you still have time to use our “Write To Congress” feature, located on our website. Contact your Representatives and ask them to support the National Guard issues. Simply visit our website at www.ngaus.org, type in your zip code, and follow the directions given.

We would also like to thank all of our members who took advantage of this feature during our 128th General Conference. You set a new record of over 3500 messages sent on a single legislative alert. Congratulations on your accomplishment! We hope to see this same participation in the future.

We Serve

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

This post was moved here from DoD Daily News-2.

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