States Seek Aid in Fight Over Guard

Associated Press
Friday, September 1, 2006

The nation's governors sought help yesterday from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in their ongoing fight against proposals in Congress to give President Bush more control -- and governors less -- over the National Guard during disasters.

A letter from the chairman and vice chairman of the National Governors Association, along with the two governors who head the group's work on the Guard, asked Rumsfeld to join the unanimous opposition of governors to proposed changes spurred by the chaos and delays in sending help that followed Hurricane Katrina.

All 50 governors earlier this month signed a formal letter opposing a House provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would let Bush federalize the Guard without governors' consent in the event of a "serious natural or manmade disaster, accident or catastrophe."

"It's a basic reshuffling of the balance between the states and the federal government," said Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), chairman of the NGA. "It's ill-advised. It's a bad idea."

A Rumsfeld spokeswoman, Cynthia Smith, said he would not comment publicly and would respond directly to the governors.

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