NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 21, 2006

When Congress returns after Labor Day, lawmakers should reject a measure that would allow the president to take control of a state's National Guard troops without the governor's consent.  This would be an unwarranted power shift to the White House, says the Miami Herald.

  • Governors find this idea so objectionable that all of them have signed a letter of protest to House and Senate leaders. 
  • ''This provision,'' they wrote, ''represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors as Commanders and Chief of the Guard to the federal government.'' 
  • The governors weren't even consulted on the issue.
  • The provision is now embedded in the defense-spending bill that recently was approved by the House; the Senate hasn't finalized its version of the bill, but plans to do so soon after the summer recess.

Senators should reject this power shift and the House-Senate conference committee should strip the provision from the final bill as the governors urged, says the Herald.

The White House says the measure is intended to bolster its authority to act during emergencies or disasters without taking power from the states, but that's not how the governors see it, says the Herald:

  • Governors are better positioned to know first-hand what their states need.
  • Should they need help, the states can request federal assistance -- as Florida and others have done during disasters.
  • Making the federal government the first determinant of need could cause confusion.
  • To bolster the nation's disaster-response capabilities, Congress should make sure that the National Guard is adequately funded.

Source: Editorial, "No Federal Fix Needed," Miami Herald, August 21, 2006.


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