Wednesday, September 20, 2006

National Guard provission dropped

Bond and Leahy had sought to give the Guard a say in key Pentagon decisions.By LYDIA GENSHEIMER The Kansas City Star

Sen. Kit Bond’s efforts to enhance the National Guard’s status at the Pentagon was set back when House-Senate conference leaders pulled his provision from a defense bill.
The dropped provision, co-sponsored by Bond, a Republican, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, would have elevated the Guard chief to a four-star general and required that the No. 2 position in the U.S. Northern Command be a member of the National Guard. Bond has argued that the Guard has been shut out of key decision-making.

“They have supported us in the global war on terror, and the National Guard has earned a promotion,” Bond said. “It’s time the Guard had a seat at the table when plans are being made.”
The conference report on the Defense Authorization Bill also is expected to include a provision allowing the president more control over the National Guard, giving him power to call the Guard to action — without governors’ consent — in an event such as a natural disaster. Leahy said the bill now stands as a double setback for the Guard.

Thousands of National Guard members signed petitions presented Tuesday afternoon to Bond and Leahy. Both senators say they are still pushing for a change in the bill’s language.
A conference report is expected in the next several days, however, and a House vote is possible by the end of the week.

To reach Lydia Gensheimer, call 1-(202) 383-6011 or send e-mail to lgensheimer @mcclatchydc.com.

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