CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Maintaining that it would cost the West Virginia National Guard “funding, equipment and, most importantly, personnel,” the Kanawha County Commission is opposing House Bill 2138, the “Defend the Guard Act.”
In letters addressed to all Kanawha legislators, the commission maintains the bill has the effect of “defunding, not defending, the Guard.”
The bi-partisan letters are signed off on by Democrat Commissioners Kent Carper and Ben Salango as well as Republican Lance Wheeler.
Proponents of the bill, introduced by Republican Delegates Pat McGheehan of Hancock County and Bill Anderson of Wood, say they are simply reinforcing provisions in the law that require an official declaration of war by Congress before the West Virginia National Guard may be released to participate in active duty combat.
The bill cites Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States vesting in the United States Congress the exclusive power of war.
“In spite of the clear language of the United States Constitution, vesting the power over war exclusively in the United States Congress, the United States Executive Branch has unconstitutionally assumed that power while the United States Congress has abdicated its constitutional duty,” the bill says.
“Although the United States Congress has not declared war in over 70 years, the nation has since gone to war repeatedly at the whim of the executive branch,” it goes on.
The bill quotes President James Madison as writing, “The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war to the Legislature.”
The text explains, “The purpose of this bill is to require an official declaration of war or an action to call forth the state militia by the United States Congress before members of the West Virginia National Guard may be released from state control to participate in active duty combat.”
Kanawha Commission President Carper said, “This bill is misleading – if passed, it will defund, not defend, the West Virginia National Guard. As in past years, I urge our legislators to soundly reject this legislation.”
Salango added, “The West Virginia National Guard is one of our largest employers – the West Virginia Air Guard (130th and 167th Airlift Wing) employs more than 2,100 full and part-time time personnel in West Virginia. The legislature should refrain from any action that would be detrimental to the National Guard and the livelihood of our brave servicemen and women.”
Wheeler added, “I recognize the intent of the bill is to prevent endless conflicts and foreign wars; however, the Defend the Guard act is not the proper means to accomplish this goal. I believe this bill, if passed, would impede the ability of our National Guard to act during times of local emergency.”