(February 14, 2017) Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss., spoke this morning to the NGAUS Legislative Workshop that brought about 65 legislative liaisons, congressional contact officers and executive directors of state National Guard associations to the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In answer to a question, Ernst addressed the mobilization authority known as 12304(b) that does not provide reserve-component members with the same benefits received by active-component troops on the same mission.
“I am aware of the overlying issue, but I’m glad you brought it to our attention,” Ernst told the questioner. “That is something that we will go back and take a look at [and] see if it’s something that reasonably we can address through the [National Defense Authorization Act] process.”
NGAUS is working with Congress to equalize the benefits for mobilized members of all components.
The workshop provides the attendees with a chance to meet and hear lawmakers and National Guard Bureau officials, as well as representatives from governors. A panel of congressional staffers is also on the agenda for this afternoon. Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the vice chief of the Guard bureau, will close the event.
Ernst, who retired from the Iowa National Guard, also talked about the impact the automatic budget caps known as sequestration have on military readiness. She mentioned a briefing she received last week that was “extremely frightening.”
Palazzo, an enlisted member of the Mississippi Guard, said the primary responsibility of Congress is the common defense of the United States.
“We should be taking that very seriously,” he said. “We need to make sure our armed services are properly ready, they’re well trained, they have the leadership and the weapons so our men and women can go do their jobs safely.”