UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 21, 2009

LOCAL HEROES: BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO RESTORE OREGON'S CONTROL OVER NATIONAL GUARD

Paul Fattig Mail Tribune, OR - A bipartisan effort led by a Southern Oregon Republican and a Portland Democrat could give the state more power in governing whether its National Guard is deployed to wars. State Reps. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, and Chip Shields, D-Portland, have co-sponsored [legislation] that clarifies that future deployments by the U.S. president of state-organized militia, including the Oregon Guard, must adhere to existing law and the U.S. constitution.

The bill calls on Oregon's governor to ensure the Guard is only used in the presence of a "valid congressional enactment consistent with the Constitution of the United States of America."

"The Constitution gives only Congress the authority to declare war," said Richardson, who served as an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam.

"If the new president, a constitutional scholar, wants to use Oregon's National Guard, he should only do so pursuant to a valid congressional resolution," he added. "The Oregon National Guard should not be treated like the private army of any U.S. president."

"This is the most important issue of our time: how and when to send our National Guard members into war," Shields said.

The legislation would not affect the Guard's current deployment, which includes 605 citizen-soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the 186th Infantry, headquartered in Ashland. . .

Roughly 60 percent of those deploying already have done a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan after being deployed by the previous administration, according to the National Guard.

Oregon is one of 23 states where efforts are under way to clarify that governors have the authority to inspect federal orders to ensure they are lawful before releasing their state militias to federal service. Of those, a dozen have introduced legislation similar to the one being debated in Oregon. . .

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