Leahy introducing Guard budget legislation

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy is introducing legislation to give the National Guard a stronger role in determining its budget priorities in the future.

Under Leahy’s plan, the National Guard would have the authority to develop a budget independent of the Department of Defense and the head of the National Guard would be added to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Leahy thinks the changes will make a big difference:

(Leahy) “We saw what happened last fall. The Pentagon was proposing not only to cut the Guard but to cut the kind of equipment the Guard has. It was only when Senator Bond of Missouri and myself put together over 70 senators to object that they pulled back from that. But they shouldn’t have to rely on members of Congress to do it. They should have a voice at the table when the decisions are being made.”

(Host) Leahy says the bill is needed to reflect the changing role of the Guard. Almost 50% of U.S. combat forces in Iraq are members of the National Guard:

(Leahy) “Since 9/11 the whole nature of the Guard has changed. By the same token then they should have a say as the plans are being made by the Department of Defense and be made at the Pentagon. If you’re going to be called upon to do all the same things the regular forces are called upon to do, you ought to have a voice in there when the decision is being made.”

(Host) Leahy says he’s optimistic that the legislation will win approval because many senators have indicated their support for the plan.

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