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Idaho Senate passes bill requiring Congress declare war for national guard deployment

The Senate in session at the Idaho Capitol. | file photo
BOISE (Idaho Capital Sun) — Idaho National Guard active duty combat deployments could require a formal war declaration by Congress under a new bill the Idaho Senate approved Monday.
Congress, which has the exclusive power to declare war, has not officially declared war since World War II, roughly 80 years ago.
“Congress routinely now authorizes the president’s use of military force by means other than a declaration of war, and that a governor cannot object,” bill sponsor Sen. Ben Adams, R-Nampa, who served in the Marine Corps, told the Senate. “Not only does this fly in the face of the state’s authority over its own militia, but it is this routine abdication of congressional authority that highlights the necessity of this legislation.”
Idaho Sen. Ben Adams, R-Nampa, works from the Senate floor at the State Capitol building on Jan. 9, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Senate Bill 1252, called the “Defend the Guard Act,” would require Congress to declare war, or an invasion or insurrection, to deploy Idaho National Guard troops for active duty combat.
The Idaho Senate passed the bill on a 27-8 vote. Four Senate Democrats and four Senate Republicans opposed the bill.
Mountain Home Republican Sen. Geoff Schroeder, who served in the Idaho Army National Guard, said he anticipated the bill could lead national defense officials, working to anticipate threats and conflicts, to say, “‘Well, there’s a state that we’re not going to have assets available to mobilize in case we need to get started ahead of time.”
“I really hope that one of these days, Congress asserts its constitutional sole authority to declare war. And I think we need to really, really send a message to them to do that. But I think this has an unintended consequence that’s dangerous, and that I think affects an organization that I spent 21 years in, that I shed tears over,” Schroeder said. 
More than 4,000 soldiers and airmen serve in the Idaho National Guard, the military unit’s website says. 
Other states have introduced similar legislation
Idaho’s bill is part of model legislation introduced in other states by a group called Defend the Guard, Adams told the Idaho Capital Sun. The Arizona Senate in March 2023 was the first legislative body to pass the bill, the group’s website says. The New Hampshire House passed a model bill earlier this year, according to Defend the Guard. 
If Idaho’s bill is approved by the Legislature, Adams told the Sun, “it would start a ripple effect around the country” and would impact Congress.
“Congress always is looking at the next election. Well, if their states are passing legislation that supports this, they’re going to come along, even at the squirming of those special interests back in Washington, D.C.,” Adams said in an interview. 
Adams told the Sun that his bill gives leeway for training deployments, and it instead targets combat deployments. The bill defines “active duty combat” as participating in armed conflict, performing a hazardous service related to armed conflict in a foreign state, or performing duties through “an instrumentality of war.” 
The bill now heads to the Idaho House, where it would need to clear a committee and pass the full House before going to Idaho Gov. Brad Little for consideration.
The post Idaho Senate passes bill requiring Congress declare war for national guard deployment appeared first on East Idaho News.

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