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: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns MORE (D-Wash), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofePentagon chief backs change to military sexual assault prosecution Overnight Defense: Biden participates in NATO summit | White House backs 2002 AUMF repeal | Top general says no plans for airstrikes to help Afghan forces after withdrawal Top Republican proposes leaving 1,000 US troops in Afghanistan into next year MORE (R-Okla.), House Armed Services ranking member Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (R-Texas), and Senate Armed Services ranking member Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedHouse lawmakers introduce bill to overhaul military justice system Pentagon chief backs change to military sexual assault prosecution Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed MORE (D-R.I.) on Monday, urging them to include its priorities in the negotiated final conference bill.


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.