Gov. Mike Easley sent a letter to the nation’s governors urging them to get their states’ representatives in the U.S. House to support repeal of a law adopted last year that expands the power of the president to take control over the National Guard in extreme emergencies.
Easley said this is necessary so governors can effectively respond to natural and man-made disasters to protect their citizens. The House Armed Services Committee approved the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act that includes language that would make the change. The bill is expected to be taken up by the full House this week.
A U.S. Department of Defense plan released this week determined that Guard forces would be needed immediately to respond to a pandemic flu. Easley said with the current law, the president would have the power to take control over the National Guard, leaving states on their own.
The following is the text of the letter Easley sent to the nation’s governors:
As you know, governors have been united in seeking repeal of Section 1076 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act passed last year that says the president is justified in calling up National Guard troops, without consent of a governor, in times of “natural disaster, epidemic or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident or other conditions.”
This seriously weakens our ability to respond to disasters in our state while unwisely expanding the president’s authority over the National Guard. It throws into question our power to command the National Guard in our own states.
I want to thank you for your efforts to repeal this law, which already seems to be getting results. However, concerns regarding Section 1076 were highlighted by the release this week of the Department of Defense Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza. There are two important points we must consider.
First, the plan states in the event of a pan flu outbreak, state and local jurisdictions will be overwhelmed and Reserve and National Guard forces would be needed to provide support in such crucial areas as medical services and transportation. Under the law as it is written now, the president would have the power to take control over the National Guard at such a critical time.
Second, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, as well as other federal officials, has told each of us that in the event of a pandemic, Washington will not be able to help every community affected and we will be responding with our own state’s resources and plans. Depending on how a pandemic scenario unfolds, any one of us could be left without National Guard resources that might have been taken by the president.
These facts make it even more urgent that Section 1076 is repealed. The U.S. House Armed Services Committee took an important step this week by including language repealing this section in its mark-up of the FY ’08 Department of Defense authorization bill.
I urge you to contact your state’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives and tell them to support the new Defense Authorization Bill when it comes to the floor so our ability to respond to disasters is protected.
Source: Office of the Governor of North Carolina
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