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They're Back: The leaders of the National Guard Caucus, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) have reintroduced legislation, call it National Guard Empowerment III, to continue their push to further the role of the Guard in defense policymaking. Among the latest initiatives, the caucus wants to ensure governors retain "tactical control" of the Guard and other military forces operating domestically; wants to give the National Guard Bureau budgetary authority; and create an NGB vice chief. Under last year's empowerment effort, the lawmakers successfully elevated the NGB director to a four-star position. Now, they want to try again to get the director a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Leahy said the new legislation would "help mission performance and the entire military's ability to respond to support elected leaders and local officials during emergencies." And, Bond added, "We have a responsibility to give the Guard the equipment, resources, and bureaucratic muscle they need to meet their critical dual mission." (Leahy statement and Bond statement)