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Key Guard Supporters Leaving Congress

11-22-22 WR Retiring Lawmakers
11-22-22 WR Retiring Lawmakers
Washington Report

Some longtime National Guard supporters on Capitol Hill are leaving Congress at the end of the year.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is retiring after eight terms in the Senate.

Leahy has been co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus since 1999.

In 2011, Leahy and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the National Guard Empowerment Act in the Senate.

Graham is the Republican co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus.

The pair's bill elevated the National Guard Bureau chief to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The measure was included in the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

But Leahy established himself as a staunch Guard supporter long before 2012.

Leahy regularly pushed Senate legislation that improved Guard equipment and benefits, including after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In 2003, NGAUS recognized Leahy’s contributions with the Harry S. Truman Award, the association’s highest honor.

Leahy is also chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Two other senators important to military policy and appropriations are also departing the Senate.

First is Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Next is Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the vice chairman of the SAC.

Inhofe has been in the Senate since 1995 and received a Charles Dick Medal of Merit from NGAUS in 2008.

Shelby is in his sixth term in the Senate and also serves as the vice chairman of the SAC’s Defense Subcommittee.

In the House, three drilling Guardsmen will not return next year:

  • Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., a Mississippi Army Guard sergeant;
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a Wisconsin Air Guard lieutenant colonel; and
  • Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, a Hawaii Air Guard lieutenant colonel.

Palazzo and Kahele are co-chairs on the House National Guard and Reserve Caucus.

Palazzo, a House Appropriations Committee member, lost his reelection bid in the Republican primary.

Palazzo is in his sixth term in the House.

Kahele, a House Armed Services Committee member, didn't seek reelection following his first term.

In August, Kahele lost the Democratic primary for governor of Hawaii after launching a bid in May.

Kinzinger, a House representative since 2011, also didn't pursue reelection.

Additionally, a former co-chair of the House National Guard and Reserve Caucus isn't returning.

After 10 terms in the House, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, unsuccessfully tried for the Senate.

Ryan is the 2022 recipient of the NGAUS Montgomery Medal, the association’s second highest honor.

The award is named after G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery, a House representative from Mississippi.

Montgomery was known as "Mr. National Guard" during his 15 terms in the House from 1967 to 1997.

Ryan will stay on the HAC through the end of the year.