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Governors urge negotiators to include top priorities in final defense policy bill

Governors urge negotiators to include top priorities in final defense policy bill
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The National Governors Association (NGA) on Monday thanked the House and Senate chairmen for including its top priorities in their respective defense policy bills, including language to modify the National Guard response to disasters and pandemics.

Negotiations over the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are stalled until after Election Day.

The NGA sent a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names House Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names Overnight Defense: White House suggests stripping Confederate base names in exchange for repealing tech liability shield | Biden faces mounting hurdles to rejoining Iran deal | Military coronavirus cases up MORE (D-Wash), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeHouse Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee Overnight Defense: Trump orders troop drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq | Key Republicans call Trump plan a 'mistake' MORE (R-Okla.), House Armed Services ranking member Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses Defense bill moves to formal negotiations with Confederate name fight looming Overnight Defense: Trump orders troop drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq | Key Republicans call Trump plan a 'mistake' MORE (R-Texas), and Senate Armed Services ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedTop Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' Overnight Defense: Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper | Worries grow about rudderless post-election Pentagon | Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up | Pelosi says Esper firing shows Trump intent on sowing 'chaos' Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up MORE (D-R.I.) on Monday, urging them to include its priorities in the negotiated final conference bill.

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In calling for modifications to the National Guard's disaster and pandemic response plan, the NGA noted lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The absence of a streamlined, transparent and rapid authorization is causing significant challenges to our collective response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” Bill McBride, NGA executive director, wrote. “The lack of a formal process, guidance or reply from the Administration meant Governors were left with few options.”

He added that governors should be able to rely on the federal government to provide clear guidance and requirements, a transparent process and resources, all in a timely and realistic manner. 

One provision in both the House and Senate bill includes “authorization of hazardous duty incentive pay for all COVID-19 related National Guard and military missions,” which NGA supports. 

NGA also prioritized a Work for Warriors program, which is included in the House bill and would authorize a job placement program for military members to include the National Guard and Reserves. 

Additionally, NGA prioritized a provision that supports National Guard training for cyber incidents and a provision that clarifies the use of environmental restoration projects for activities conducted by the National Guard, among other issues.