National Guard June 2012 : Page 14

WASHINGTON UPDATE The latest Capitol Hill news from the NGAUS legislative staff Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that sequestration could result in a “hollow, unbalanced or weaker” force. The term sequestration, which probably was never part of your vocabulary until re-cently, will be bandied about with great frequency in the nation’s capital city over the next few months. The Defense Department would take huge hits if the automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 go into effect as scheduled in January 2013. The Pentagon would lose $450 billion over 10 years, an amount that surely would impact National Guard funding. That’s in addition to $487 billion in defense spending cuts mandated by a law that limits the debt. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said that sequestration, if it is allowed to take place, could result in a “hollow, unbalanced or weaker” force. NGAUS legislative staff heard Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., discuss his budget proposal in April, along with other veteran service organizations. His budget has no chance of becom-ing law and he knows it because of the Senate, where Democrats rule. But because it would restore defense funding, it jump starts a conversation regarding the difficult decisions ahead for the House and Senate. The House passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 on May 10 by a vote of 218 to 199. It would provide mandatory spending reduction to avoid the automatic cuts to defense. The committees on agriculture, energy and commerce, finan-cial services, the judiciary, oversight and government reform, and ways and means each produced deficit-reduction plans. Democrats say this plan funds the military on the backs of the poor, so it will never survive the Senate. Panetta said much the same thing at a Pentagon press conference. Sequestration will remain a political football for the rest of the year. Sen. Patty Mur-ray, D-Wash., the chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was happy to hear the Office of Management and Budget confirm that the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs would not be affected. Still, that leaves a lot of the federal government from which to cut. We’ll keep you posted as sequestration finds its way into more and more discussions on Capitol Hill. In contrast to Ryan’s plan to protect defense spending, a resolution advanced by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., calls for the United States to withdraw all combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2013 and cut spending in Afghanistan to under $5 billion per year by fiscal 2014. The resolution notes that the war in Afghanistan is increasing the public debt, increas-ing the number of wounded and killed service members, and increasing the number of combat veterans who return home with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. —By Pete Duffy, acting legislative director That 13-Letter Word Joint: Space-A Expansion Still Flying An effort to extend greater space-available travel to a larger Guard audience won passage by the Senate Armed Services Committee, but failed in the House, last month during discussion of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2013. The measure would give full space-available benefits—meaning travel across the globe—to Guard and Reserve mem-bers, retirees drawing retirement pay and 14 their family members. They currently are restricted to travel within the United States. The bill would add “gray area” retirees to the program, as well. The Pentagon opposed the plan, claim-ing the additional passengers meant an added expense for a program that is sup-posed to operate without cost. This is an argument NGAUS finds silly. One veteran service organization feared an “equal” privilege for the Guard and | National Guard

Washington Update

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that sequestration could result in a “hollow, unbalanced or weaker” force.<br /> <br /> That 13-Letter Word <br /> <br /> The term sequestration, which probably was never part of your vocabulary until recently, will be bandied about with great frequency in the nation’s capital city over the next few months.<br /> <br /> The Defense Department would take huge hits if the automatic cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 go into effect as scheduled in January 2013. The Pentagon would lose $450 billion over 10 years, an amount that surely would impact National Guard funding.<br /> <br /> That’s in addition to $487 billion in defense spending cuts mandated by a law that limits the debt.<br /> <br /> Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said that sequestration, if it is allowed to take place, could result in a “hollow, unbalanced or weaker” force.<br /> <br /> NGAUS legislative staff heard Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., discuss his budget proposal in April, along with other veteran service organizations. His budget has no chance of becoming law and he knows it because of the Senate, where Democrats rule.<br /> <br /> But because it would restore defense funding, it jump starts a conversation regarding the difficult decisions ahead for the House and Senate.<br /> <br /> The House passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 on May 10 by a vote of 218 to 199. It would provide mandatory spending reduction to avoid the automatic cuts to defense. The committees on agriculture, energy and commerce, financial services, the judiciary, oversight and government reform, and ways and means each produced deficit-reduction plans.<br /> <br /> Democrats say this plan funds the military on the backs of the poor, so it will never survive the Senate. Panetta said much the same thing at a Pentagon press conference.<br /> <br /> Sequestration will remain a political football for the rest of the year. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was happy to hear the Office of Management and Budget confirm that the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs would not be affected.<br /> <br /> Still, that leaves a lot of the federal government from which to cut. We’ll keep you posted as sequestration finds its way into more and more discussions on Capitol Hill.<br /> <br /> In contrast to Ryan’s plan to protect defense spending, a resolution advanced by Rep.Walter Jones, R-N.C., calls for the United States to withdraw all combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2013 and cut spending in Afghanistan to under $5 billion per year by fiscal 2014.<br /> <br /> The resolution notes that the war in Afghanistan is increasing the public debt, increasing the number of wounded and killed service members, and increasing the number of combat veterans who return home with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.<br /> <br /> —By Pete Duffy, acting legislative director<br /> <br /> Joint: Space-A Expansion Still Flying <br /> <br /> An effort to extend greater spaceavailable travel to a larger Guard audience won passage by the Senate Armed Services Committee, but failed in the House, last month during discussion of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2013.<br /> <br /> The measure would give full spaceavailable benefits—meaning travel across the globe—to Guard and Reserve members, retirees drawing retirement pay and their family members. They currently are restricted to travel within the United States.The bill would add “gray area” retirees to the program, as well.<br /> <br /> The Pentagon opposed the plan, claiming the additional passengers meant an added expense for a program that is supposed to operate without cost.<br /> <br /> This is an argument NGAUS finds silly.One veteran service organization feared an “equal” privilege for the Guard and Reserve and vowed to fight the bill.<br /> <br /> Full Senate passage is expected in the weeks ahead, which would set up a showdown when House and Senate negotiators get together later this year to reconcile differences in their versions of the defense bills.<br /> <br /> —By Pete Duffy <br /> <br /> Army: Still Working on Tanks <br /> <br /> NGAUS was pleased with the way the House treated the Army National Guard in the NDAA.<br /> <br /> It includes an additional $100 million for Humvee upgrades and prohibits the retirement of the C-23 Sherpa aircraft, for example.<br /> <br /> Helicopters got the House’s attention. The bill includes funding for an additional 10 UH-60M aircraft and three UH-72 aircraft, as well as money for the UH-60A to UH60L conversion.<br /> <br /> More interesting is the House’s effort to provide the Army Guard with more M1A2 System Enhancement Package tanks, the most advanced variant of the Abrams tank.<br /> The money is offered—more than $255 million— to continue production of the tank.<br /> <br /> But NGAUS was disappointed to see that the language does not explicitly require the new tanks go to the Guard, which is currently modernizing to a less advanced tank.<br /> <br /> However, most important, of course, is that the funding is there. And the language does allude to “pure fleeting” the entire Army fleet, which, we presume, would include the Guard.<br /> <br /> NGAUS was trying late last month to convince the Senate to include both the funding and the language.<br /> <br /> Reports indicate that the Senate Armed Services Committee included added funds for tanks, but not as much as the House, and there was no word if the tanks would have to go to the Guard.<br /> <br /> The House-passed NDAA also included $500 million for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account.<br /> <br /> —By Annie Lively, legislative assistant (Army) <br /> <br /> Air: Nearing Victory in Congress <br /> <br /> Significant steps were taken last month in what NGAUS hopes will be ultimate victory in the attempt to deter the Air Force’s effort to reduce the Air Guard by 134 aircraft and more than 5,000 airmen.<br /> <br /> The House version of the NDAA for fiscal 2013 put the kibosh on the Air Force proposal, thanks to efforts from governors, adjutants general and, of course, your association on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington,D. C. <br /> <br /> Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Rep.Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, were joined by 15 other House members in an amendment that stops the Air Force from removing aircraft from the Air Guard.<br /> <br /> This was a bipartisan effort, which NGAUS was glad to see. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle continue to press the Air Force for the justifications for their budget proposals.<br /> <br /> The Senate Armed Services Committee took similar action. Full details won’t be available until this month at the earliest, but SASC markup language would halt cuts to the Air Guard for fiscal 2013.<br /> <br /> The SASC also is calling for the establishment of a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, which would report to Congress by March 31, 2013, or just in time to guide congressional action on the fiscal 2014 budget request.<br /> <br /> The language must still pass the full Senate, and there will be differences between the two versions that will have to be reconciled.But the intent of Congress is clear: The cuts to the Air Guard will not be in the NDAA that lawmakers send to the president.<br /> <br /> This is a big win for the Guard and NGAUS.<br /> <br /> —By Emily Sass, senior legislative affairs manager (Air) <br /> <br /> Legislation 101 <br /> <br /> Recess: A temporary halt to legislative proceedings. This can be for a short period in one day or for an extended period of time covering several days, such as during the holiday season.<br /> <br /> The House has approximately 117 recess days this year, with 144 work days in Washington,D. C. The Senate has approximately 55 recess days in 2012, with 206 work days.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS Legislative Department provides regular updates on legislative news at NGAUS Legislative Corner, a blog that can be found at http://nationalguardassociation.Blogspot.com.

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