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House committee approves amendment to restore governor authority over space National Guard units

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) The U.S. House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act that would retain the authority of governors over Air National Guard space units.

An Air Force proposal sought to transfer Air National Guard space units to Space Force, but remove the authority state governors historically have had over those units. Governors and members of Congress from both parties have opposed the proposal, saying it would undermine the National Guard system and disrupt guard members’ intentions to serve both their country and their states.

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The amendment, which the committee approved Wednesday, removed a provision of the Air Force proposal that disregarded a federal requirement for National Guard unit changes to get a governor’s approval. The units can still get transferred to the U.S. Space Force, but with governors involved in the conversation and their ability to activate the national guard space units intact. The amendment also requires an annual report on the status of the transfer of Air National Guard members into Space Force.

U.S. Representative Jason Crow, a Centennial Democrat who led a letter opposing the Air Force’s proposal and supported the amendment, celebrated the amendment’s passage and thanked the members of Congress who introduced it.

“I’ve been fighting for our National Guard members and will continue to,” Crow said in a statement. “This is an important step to protect our National Guard and safeguard their commitment to serve. Colorado’s guard members sign up to serve their community and nation, and that service should be respected.”

Democratic Colorado Governor Jared Polis and other leaders of the National Governors Association met with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in early May to talk about the proposal, but Kendall didn’t commit to withdrawing it from consideration. Polis credited Crow for his support of the amendment.

“This amendment ensures that the Air Force works with governors before changing force structure in their state, as has been the process for over 120 years,” Polis spokesperson Shelby Wieman said in a statement. “Governor Polis has led the way on the issue, including leading a letter signed by 55 governors through the National Governors Association, and is glad to see the federal government taking action and heeding the call of governors to follow federal law.”

Congress approves a defense authorization act every year to fund the military, and the 2025 iteration is still making its way through hearings with the potential for additional amendments. More than one-third of all space-related National Guard members live in Colorado. Other states that would be affected by the change include Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, New York and Ohio.

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