January 31 — Cheyenne — Tensions mounted among lawmakers late Monday night before the Senate Transportation, Highways and Armed Services Committee unanimously rejected the “Keep Guards Guards” bill.
Senate File 119 stated that the U.S. Constitution “gives Congress the exclusive power to declare war. By relinquishing power to the executive branch, Congress has failed to comply with the Constitution and the intent of its founders.” .
“The Defend the Guard Act regulates the governor’s authority to protect the Wyoming National Guard and citizen soldiers from participating in wars that are not declared in accordance with the purpose and clear language of the U.S. Constitution.” said Sen. Bob Ide of R-Casper, the bill’s sponsor. “Unless there is a declaration of war by Congress, the governor shall withhold the Wyoming National Guard from taking federal service for the purpose of waging an undeclared war.”
He told members of Congress that if there were national interests abroad worth sending uniformed men and women to defend, “our elected leaders would name them in a declaration of war and then offer It’s worth it,” he said. To ensure that we fight and win a well-defined victory, we ask for the full support and assistance of the United States of America. ”
Ide was joined by co-hosts Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne) and Rep. Ocean Andrew (R-Laramie). When the legal status of the military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria came to light, they were all questioned by veteran Senators Brian Bonner, R-Douglas, about the difference between authorizing the use of force and declaring war. rice field.
“We have fought 20 years of war for generations. I don’t think you realize how much it affects the soul,’ said Andrew. .”
Andrew argued with Bonner about the “substantial difference” between declaring war on a country and sending troops. Continuing, Andrew said, “It seemed obvious to him, but it may not be to you.”
Chris Smith, an attorney at the Wyoming War Department, who represented the Guard and said he opposes the bill as both a veteran and a current War Department representative. Following the passage of the War Powers Act to create a methodology for He pointed out that there is a way
Smith was also aware of nearly all major weapons and equipment in federal possession by the Wyoming State Guard. According to him, the latest inventory reveals about $880 million worth of equipment on loan, ranging from Blackhawk helicopters to rocket systems.
He said the president could get rid of it all under the Uniform Service Code, and $110 million goes into the state each year for the Wyoming Guard.
“Last year, 31 states considered the Defend the Guard Act in 2022, and none passed,” Smith said. “The reason, in my opinion, is not that we want to be the first state to pass.”
This is the third time the “Protect the Garrison” bill has been introduced in the Wyoming Legislature, and it has never passed. But that didn’t stop supporters from trying to push the bill through committees.
Tyler Lindholm, head of the American State for Prosperity, said the military intends to threaten to withhold funds, which it did when the bill first went into effect in 2020.
Bringing the history and constitution of America’s founders into his testimony, Lindholm also asked about the oaths legislators made to the states and the United States Constitution. He said it was the law of the country and that if they agreed, he would maintain the position of declaring war.
The lobbyists were followed by veterans who supported the bill, including Cody resident Tom Rullman.
“For our elected officials to take office, they must pledge to uphold and defend our nation’s constitution. They may say words, but especially today , Washington’s elected officials are deliberately violating our Constitution,” he said. “As our history shows, elected officials in Washington not only ignored their constitutional responsibility to declare war when sending soldiers into battle, they also ignored many other elements of the Constitution. Did.”
The members of the committee listened to the testimony and remained respectful, but in the end they all disagreed with the bill. Many said the fight was with the federal government, that fear was being used as a tactic, and that lawmakers had their reputations slammed for claiming they didn’t care about Guard members.
Senator Stephen Pappas of the R-Cheyenne, as a former commander of the Wyoming National Guard, viewed their actions as an attack on the troops who served under him. While the Constitution allows the declaration of war, it is not the only way to enter into armed conflict.
Bonner said he could even push for revisions to the War Powers Act of 1973, which he said may not necessarily support the authorization of unrestricted use of military force after 9/11, but that he would not necessarily support the garrison. The “defend” effort is “a little too disingenuous for him to fall behind”.
“I support the military, my son, my family,” said R-Rock Springs Senator John Kolb before voting against. “So please, I’ll stay by your side and not hurt you by what I do or why. I just want people to know that.”
Jasmine Hall is a State Government Correspondent for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. You can reach her by email at email@example.com or by calling her at 307-633-3167. Follow her on her Twitter @jasminerhphotos and her Instagram @jhrose25.