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Friday, May 19, 2006

National Guard News

NGAUS Legislative Update
May 19, 2006


Border Budget Request

On Thursday, the White House submitted an emergency funding request of $1.9 billion for the President’s border security initiative. The request includes: $1.2 billion for the Department of Homeland Security — $500 million for new security infrastructure and surveillance equipment, $342 million for enforcement activities and $330 million to hire 1,000 new Border Patrol agents and establish new training facilities. Also included was a request of $756 million for the National Guard deployment.

The funding for the border initiative will be part of the FY06 Emergency Supplemental that is being debated between House and Senate conference negotiators. The funding for the border initiative will be offset by funding for other programs included within the supplemental bill. Reconciling the House version and the Senate version of the bill could prove tricky. The House bill is funded at $91.9 billion while the Senate version is funded at $108.0 billion. The President has threatened to veto the Supplemental if it exceeds his cap of $94.5 billion.

HASC Hearing on H.R. 5200

Sources in the House indicate that the House Armed Services Committee may hold a hearing on the H.R. 5200, the National Guard Empowerment and Enhancement Act. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 14. No word on the specific details of the hearing are available at this time.

Appropriations Hearing

On Wednesday, May 17, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (SAC-D) held a hearing to discuss the FY07 defense budget. While the testimony was to focus on the overall status of U.S. forces from the perspective of the Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, members focused questions on Guard issues in light of the President’s announcement that the National Guard would play a role in border security in an effort to address illegal immigration along the southwestern border.

LTG H. Steven Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, testified along with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen Pace, Chairman of the JCS, regarding the President’s plan to deploy Guard personnel to the Southwest border with Mexico. While the exact implementation to the plan is still being developed, the proposal would provide 6,000 Guard personnel to act as auxiliary support for the border agents and included possible infrastructure and reconnaissance support.

SASC Hearing on Border Issues

The National Guard’s role in border security was again the focus on Wednesday afternoon, when Guard Chief, LTG H. Steven Blum testified along with Mr. Paul McHale, Assistant Secretary of Defense for homeland defense. The focus of the hearing regarded the President’s plan to deploy Guard personnel to the Southwest border with Mexico. Members questioned the limited details of the plan such as the efficiency of frequently rotating personnel as proposed by the plan. Several Senators inquired on the timing of the proposal, most especially those who have offered amendments to increase funding for border patrol and border security in the past. LTG Blum and Assistant Secretary McHale both assured that details of the plan would be forthcoming. They indicated that a list of mission sets to be needed from the Guard were being developed by the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Defense is expected to receive the list on Friday (May 19). LTG Blum reiterated to committee members that this mission would be similar to the Guard’s missions supporting drug interdiction operations on the border and would draw upon the successes operations.

Video coverage of both the SASC and Appropriations hearing are available on the C-SPAN homepage Click on video library defense/security.

“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

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