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Monday, February 26, 2007

Legislative Updates: 2/23/2007

What’s Happening In Congress?

Reducing Reserve Retirement Age.
Two bills have been introduced in the 110th Congress to amend Title 10 to reduce the eligibility age for National Guard and Reserve retirees to receive military retirement pay. Congressman Jim Saxton (NJ) introduced H.R. 690 which would simply lower the eligibility age to 55 years. Identical Saxton bills introduced in previous sessions failed to pass because of their estimated cost. Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA) has introduced S. 548 which would reduce the eligibility age below 60 years by three months for each aggregate of 90 days of active duty performed by a member of the Ready Reserves after September 11, 2001with the eligibility age not to be reduced below 50 years. Under the Chambliss bill, active duty service qualifying for the reduction would include orders for active duty in support of a contingency operation during a war or national emergency under sections 101(a) (13((B) and 12301(d) title 10 or section 502(f) of title 32. Chambliss’ office estimates that this bill, if passed, would cost $400 million over five years.

What’s Happening At NGAUS?

Leg Alert Out on TRICARE Fees.
In an effort to avoid a proposed increase in TRICARE enrollment fees, deductibles, and pharmaceutical co-pays for all members of the National Guard, NGAUS has posted Legislative Alert #07-01. This is a grass roots lobbying technique we use to raise the awareness of the issues important to constituents in every Congress member’s district. Make sure to visit www.NGAUS.org and use the “Write to Congress” feature to communicate this message to your Senators and Representatives. Also, pass along this information to fellow guard members, family members, and friends. They too can use our website to express their disappointment in the proposed healthcare increases to the Armed Forces. NGAUS will track the number of messages sent on this issue and report the results in next weeks LEGIT.

Seeking Legislative Analyst.
The National Guard Association of the United States is seeking a legislative analyst. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree, a general understanding of the United States Military, and the ability to analyze and interpret issues and language related to the National Guard as found in the Congressional process. In addition, the candidate must possess strong information technology skills, and will be responsible for managing and updating the legislative portion of the NGAUS website at www.ngaus.org. Competitive salary and benefits. Please submit resume to Brig. Gen. Richard Green (ret), NGAUS Legislative Director. Fax - 202-682-9358 or e-mail to Richard Green.

What Can You Do?

Congressional Caucuses.
A Congressional caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress which meet to pursue common legislative objectives. Formally, caucuses are organized Congressional Member Organizations (CMO).

There are two Congressional caucuses that support the National Guard. The U.S. Senate “National Guard” Caucus is co-chaired by Senator’s Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO) and currently has 84 members. The House of Representatives “Reserve Component”Caucus (181 members), is co-chaired by Representatives Gene Taylor (D-MS) and Steve Buyer (R-IN), and is organized slightly different in that it includes all reserve components.

Caucuses are very important to the National Guard because they serve as a “focal point” for introducing legislation and garnering support for issues of importance to the National Guard.

Recent examples of this support include the National Guard Empowerment Act of 2007, introduced as S.430 in the Senate and H.R.718 in the House of Representatives by National Guard and Reserve caucus leaders; which, to date, has resulted in 24 co-sponsors in the Senate and 33 in the House.

Members of Congressional caucuses are also leading the way to enhance National Guard readiness with efforts such as repealing the changes made to the Insurrection Act in the FY07 Defense Authorization bill, equipment reset, reducing the age reserve component members receive retirement pay and much more.

If your elected officials have already joined one of these caucuses, express your thanks. However, if they haven’t signed up yet, encourage them to do so to demonstrate their support for the citizen soldiers and airmen who are serving our country and readiness of the National Guard.

CACO Hotels.
The Phoenix Park Hotel is booked full for the CACO Conference time frame. The extended cut-off date for group reservations was February 9th. If you have not reserved your room yet there are a number of other hotels in the area. Two hotels close by that you can stay at are the Holiday Inn on The Hill and the Hyatt Regency on New Jersey Ave. NW. Both of these hotels are located just blocks from the NGAUS Memorial Building.

Published by the NGAUS Legislative Staff:
Brig Gen (ret) Richard M. Green, Director
Pete Duffy, Deputy Director
Chris DeBatt, Army Programs
Emily Breitbach, Air Programs
Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst

For more information on NGAUS, check out our website: www.NGAUS.org.

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