House Fights to Keep the Guard Operational
July 26, 2013
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed their version of the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Appropriations bill, H.R. 2397, which includes robust funding to ensure the National Guard remains fully operational and engaged in domestic and overseas operations.
NGAUS is thankful for the hard work of House members and their staff who were able to include language in the bill about needed Guard funding. They also incorporated language, directed toward the active component, regarding the utilization of the Guard and Reserve as an integral part of the operational force.
In a report regarding the bill, the House Appropriations Committee stated:
“The Guard and Reserve components have used the lessons learned over the past decade to identify enduring priorities that will continue to support and enhance active component requirements. Significant taxpayer investments have been made to enable the Guard and reserve to become an integral part of the operational force, and they provide great value to the Armed Forces and for the taxpayer. The Department of Defense estimates that the reserve components comprise approximately 43 percent of the total force but only nine percent of the annual budget.”
Like NGAUS, the committee also expresses its strong concern about the Army's recent decision to deploy active component units in place of scheduled reserve component deployments whenever possible.
The House bill includes additional funding for the Army and Air National Guard's operations and maintenance accounts, such as an additional $5 million for mental health care for the Army National Guard.
The bill provides another additional $100 million for new HMMWVs, as well as an additional $146 million for UH-60M Blackhawk aircraft for the Army National Guard. And, the bill includes $130 million above the President's Budget request for the National Guard Counter Drug Program and $900 million for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account to purchase critical dual-use equipment.
During the House floor consideration, a number of House members also successfully championed several Guard-related amendments that were also incorporated into the bill, including four amendments that would provide additional funding for Yellow Ribbon, State Partnership Program and STARBASE National Guard programs and the Army Guard's C-23 Sherpas and a Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., Rich Nugent, R-Fla., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., provision that bars funds from being used to plan for National Guard Dual Status Military Technicians furloughs.
NGAUS has been outspokenly critical of the furlough National Guard’s over 50,000 military technicians, the only military personnel included in furlough, and applauds the efforts to ensure that these critical military personnel are exempted. (Note: NGAUS has since released a press statement.)
While there is still much work to be done to ensure that these initiatives are included in the Senate's version of the bill, we applaud the House for leading the way on these efforts.