May 19, 2006

California Senator tells Bush to shove it on the border troop plan

Though I know we'll see nothing like this coming from our retarded Legislature, it is good to see that people in other states are bit more on top of things.

State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said Wednesday he will block state money from paying for President Bush's proposal to deploy California National Guard troops to the Mexican border. Perata, D-Oakland, scheduled hearings for next week, to be held by a committee he handpicked to probe how the president's plan to stem illegal immigration by sending National Guard troops to the 2,000-mile border would affect California's Guard units.

"The president of the United States is putting California residents in high jeopardy for political purposes of his own," Perata said, noting that the border deployments would remove the state's National Guard troops from their traditional roles of responding to natural disasters and civil unrest. "This is a foreign policy matter, and he's doing it at the expense of California residents."

Full text after the jump

From the Sacramento Bee

Perata rips Bush's border Guard plan
The Senate leader vows to halt funds for deployment, sets hearings next week.
By Andy Furillo -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:01 am PDT Thursday, May 18, 2006
State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said Wednesday he will block state money from paying for President Bush's proposal to deploy California National Guard troops to the Mexican border.

Perata, D-Oakland, scheduled hearings for next week, to be held by a committee he handpicked to probe how the president's plan to stem illegal immigration by sending National Guard troops to the 2,000-mile border would affect California's Guard units.

"The president of the United States is putting California residents in high jeopardy for political purposes of his own," Perata said, noting that the border deployments would remove the state's National Guard troops from their traditional roles of responding to natural disasters and civil unrest. "This is a foreign policy matter, and he's doing it at the expense of California residents."

The Guard is funded by both state and federal money. While Bush has suggested the federal government would pick up the cost of the proposed border deployment, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked for more assurances.

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said the Bush administration "did not do a tremendous amount of briefing" for state and local officials before the president's speech Monday in which he announced the border proposal.

"Now, as we are going through and briefing the various officials that are impacted by this policy, we think that people will become more informed and more understanding of the president's proposals," Healy said.

Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, talked on the phone for 40 minutes Wednesday with Bush's homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, about the plan. Schwarzenegger sent a blistering letter to Chertoff on Tuesday criticizing it as a "logistical nightmare."

Gubernatorial spokesman Adam Mendelsohn said Schwarzenegger raised "a variety of issues" during the phone call, reiterating the concerns he raised in Tuesday's letter.

"Following the 40-minute discussion, it was evident the administration didn't have the answers Governor Schwarzenegger was looking for, and there needs to be much further dialogue," Mendelsohn said.

Schwarzenegger, after an address to the League of California Cities, repeated his concerns about the president's National Guard proposal.

"We as a state try to be helpful with this situation," Schwarzenegger told reporters. "But at the same time I am very concerned that there are a lot of questions that are unanswered, and I think we have to now really make sure that we get the answers and we get the commitment from the White House."

The governor said he wanted to make sure it was only a two-year plan, that troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are not sent to the border, that the federal government reimburses the state for 100 percent of the cost and that Washington develops a permanent solution to secure the border.

He was particularly critical of the Bush proposal to rotate troops into their proposed construction, surveillance and intelligence border missions on two-week stints, saying "that's like starting a heart surgery and having the doctors, the whole team of doctors and nurses, leave after every five minutes and switch."

But with less than two weeks remaining to decide if he will agree to use California Guard troops in the border proposal, Schwarzenegger said he remains open to allowing the state's forces to participate in the federal plan "just temporarily, not permanently."

Schwarzenegger has been joined in his skepticism about the Bush plan by New Mexico's Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, who issued a statement Monday saying the proposal is "a stopgap measure that will have little practical effect."

Another Democrat, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, supported Bush's proposal. Arizona Guard units are already serving on the border, and Napolitano has been asking since last year for more federal funds for the effort.

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry said through a spokesman he would "welcome any effort by the federal government in meeting its responsibility to secure our border," according to the Houston Chronicle.

Schwarzenegger's office declined to comment on Perata's demand that no state money be spent on the deployment.

Perata said he is appointing Democratic Sens. Mike Machado of Linden and Joe Dunn of Santa Ana and Republican Sen. Bill Morrow of Oceanside to the committee. He said he expects them to call California National Guard Maj. Gen. William Wade II and Office of Emergency Services Director Henry Renteria to testify about how the deployment would affect the Guard's ability to do its traditional jobs.

"I do not want to spend any money at all -- invest a dime -- into anything that is going to weaken our ability to respond to a state disaster when it comes," Perata said.

About the writer:

* The Bee's Andy Furillo can be reached at (916) 321-1141 or afurillo@sacbee.com.

Posted by mcblogger at May 19, 2006 02:01 AM

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