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Empowerment II: A band of lawmakers has launched a new effort to “empower the Guard for its modern-day missions,” according to a statement from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), co-chairman of the National Guard Caucus. Leahy and fellow chairman Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) championed the earlier National Guard Empowerment Act and just last month found great fault with the final report from the Congressionally chartered Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, whose recommendations Leahy described, in some cases, as “counterproductive.” Now, Leahy and Bond, along with Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) have submitted legislation (S. 2760 and HR 5603) that would “obligate the Department of Defense to pay greater attention to the mission of homeland defense and to further empower the National Guard to carry out its missions in support of civil authorities at home.” This new effort “picks up where their earlier Guard Empowerment Bill left off,” according to the statement. Among changes the group pushed last year that made the 2008 defense authorization act is elevation of the head of the National Guard Bureau to four-star status.