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Legislation Would Add Flexibility to State Emergency Responses

Washington Report

New legislation is aimed at improving the National Guard’s emergency response efforts by allowing Active Guard and Reserve members to be called into action.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Nov. 10, would permit state Guard leaders to authorize AGR members to perform outside of their primary duties during a state emergency response.

Currently, those Guardsmen are limited to organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing and training, meaning they cannot be used during relief efforts.

Feinstein said the National Guard Emergency Response Act of 2021, S. 3162, would provide additional flexibility for states in times of need.

“The National Guard has been vital to our COVID-19 response, and in California we rely on the National Guard every wildfire season, but states are hamstrung on how they can utilize full-time members of the Guard,” the senator said.

Deployment of full-time Guardsmen would follow regulations to be developed by the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The legislation would also require state Guard leaders to determine that the activities would provide a training benefit to the soldiers.

Feinstein said the bill was introduced following a conversation with Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the NGB chief, on the need for more flexibility for states using Title 32 AGR Guardsmen.

NGAUS supports the legislation.