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Politico: House committee bars private funding for National Guard deployments

“I don't believe that our National Guard should be up for auction or up for sale,” Rep. Veronica Escobar said.

By Paul McLeary and Connor O’Brien

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday voted to block states from using private funds to pay for National Guard deployments to other states, just months after one governor accepted private donations to send Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

During its deliberations on the annual National Defense Authorization Act, the panel approved the proposal from Texas Democrat Rep. Veronica Escobar by voice vote, despite opposition from Republicans.

"I don't believe that our National Guard should be up for auction or up for sale,” Escobar said in introducing the amendment. “I think that limits transparency — we have no idea who is funding” a potential deployment of Guard troops, she added.

“We don't know if any of those sources are foreign government sources that are being funneled through private entities,” Escobar said. “We don't even know if those sources are adversaries to our interests.”

The proposal would bar funding from private sources for a cross-state Guard deployment except for emergency or disaster relief efforts.

During a brief debate, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) pushed back, calling it “an absolutely ridiculous accusation that the National Guard is up for sale.”

Despite that criticism, the move comes after South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, in June used a donation from a Tennessee-based billionaire to pay to deploy up to 50 South Dakota Guardsmen to Texas to add to the overall Guard presence on the border.

At the time, House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) slammed the move as akin to using a state's National Guard as a private militia. He promised his panel would press the Pentagon on the issue and argued accepting private money to deploy Guard troops should be illegal.

"Sadly this is not a hypothetical. This actually did happen," Smith said Wednesday. "A private person basically worked with the governor to rent out the National Guard to go perform a mission outside of that state."

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