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Friday, May 18, 2007

NGAUS Legislative Update: 5/18/2007

What’s Happening In Congress?

House Approves Defense Authorization Bill
Thursday, the House approved the FY08 National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA), H.R.1585, by a vote of 397 to 27. The final version contains authorizations in the amount of $645 billion, including $141 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released a statement noting the inclusion of $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment, “ensuring that the National Guard is able to meet its homeland and civil support missions, and adding a range of authorities through the National Guard Empowerment Act.”

Following passage, the White House conveyed its objection to several provisions that originated in the National Guard Empowerment Act. Specifically, the administration opposes the appointment of a National Guard officer to the position of commander or deputy commander of Northern Command and the transition of the National Guard Bureau into a joint activity of the Department of Defense. Both provisions remained in the bill as of Thursday. The Senate is expected to begin its consideration of their FY08 NDAA in the coming week.

BRAC is Back!
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report to Congressional Committees, #07-641, dealing with Military Base Closures released this week has caused Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), Ranking Member of the House Government Reform Committee, to request the U.S. Controller General to prepare and report on the full implications of ANG BRAC actions. See our BRAC page for a copy of Rep. Davis’ announcement, his letter, and a copy of the GAO report.

Senate Passes Second War Supplemental bill
On Thursday, the Senate passed a second version of the Iraq war supplemental funding bill. The legislation, passed by voice vote, contains no funding but expresses the intent of the Congress to “support the troops.” The bill’s passage sets the stage for a conference with the House, where the two sides are expected to come to an agreement on language that will be palatable to the White House. An amendment to the bill mandating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region was rejected during deliberations Wednesday. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Feingold (D-CA) called for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by March 2008 and was defeated by a vote of 29-67.

Guard Retired Pay Faces Trouble in the House
Adherence to a “pay go” rule meant that the House would not consider an amendment to the FY08 NDAA that would have included Rep. Latham’s legislation, (H.R. 1428), that would lower the 60 year age for receipt of retired pay by 3 months for every aggregate 90 days of deployment during a fiscal year. House rules would not allow the language to be considered without offsetting deductions from other existing military retirement benefits that would fund the projected $400 million dollar cost of the bill. Unless the House leadership is willing to waive the “pay go” rule that is blocking these legislative efforts, or the sponsors can identify offsets, the House will not legislate to for National Guard retired pay receipt. Let your Representatives know of the importance of this issue to the future of the National Guard and ask them to consider whether it should be subject to a blanket rule. Representative Saxton and the co-sponsors of H.R. 690 did not seek an amendment to the FY08 NDAA that would have included the provisions of the Saxton bill that would lower the retired pay receipt age to age 55. Senator Chambliss’ version of the bill, S.648, still has life in that chamber.

What’s Happening at NGAUS?

Joint Cargo Legislative Alert #07-04
The purpose of the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program is to procure a small cargo aircraft that provides responsive, flexible, and tailored airlift for combat, humanitarian operations, and homeland defense. Funding for this important program was not included in the House version of the FY08 NDAA. Use our “Write to Congress” feature to contact your Senators and urge them to provide funding for the JCA in the FY08 Senate Armed Services Committee NDAA that was removed by the House Armed Services Committee in the FY08 NDAA.

Resolutions Deadline Draws Closer
The resolutions deadline of June 1 is just two weeks away. Please be sure to send your finalized, approved resolutions to Bernie Phelps, Senior Legislative Analyst at B. Phelps. Any resolutions received after the June 1 deadline will be treated as emergency resolutions.

What Can You Do?
Keep sending those letters to Congress! In recent weeks, we have seen an outstanding response, with more than 6,000 messages sent to members. Use our “Write to Congress” link on the NGAUS website to let your Senators and Representative know what National Guard issues are important to you.

Capwiz Update
14,145 messages have been sent this year.
919 messages were sent this week.
3032 messages on Guard Empowerment.
3963 messages were sent on TRICARE fee increases.
6526 messages were sent on retirement.

Top 5 States:
1. Georgia – 1823 messages
2. Tennessee – 1638 messages
3. Mississippi – 960 messages
4. Ohio – 561 messages
5. Indiana 492 messages

Our Goal for 2007: 54,000 messages. Only 39,855 messages to go! For more information on NGAUS, check out our website: NGAUS.

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