Lynch fights Congress to preserve NH control of National Guard

The Union Leader
Aug. 8

CONCORD, N.H. - Gov. John Lynch said yesterday he joined governors from around the country in protesting a move in Congress that eases the access Presidents have to National Guard divisions.

Lynch said language allowing the President to federalize National Guard units without a governor's consent is in the U.S. House version of the defense appropriations bill.

"Governors are very concerned about the language," he said. Allowing the President to act without a governor's involvement "is unprecedented. Governors are united in our opposition," Lynch said during a conference call with reporters.

At their weekend meeting in South Carolina, National Governors Association members signed a joint letter to both houses of Congress urging them to kill the provision.

How the idea made its way into the House's version of the 700-page bill is a bit of a mystery. "Nobody knows who did it," Lynch said.

The NGA meeting also touched on health care and Real ID issues, he said.

Healthcare discussions at the NGA meeting covered a number of areas that New Hampshire has been studying under Lynch's Citizens Healthcare Initiative.

Expanded use of technology in record keeping, data analysis and even prescriptions hold the promise of lowering health care costs and improving results, Lynch said.

"Health care is one of the last industries to convert," Lynch said, adding that increased use of electronic medical records "has a tremendous potential for savings and for improving the quality of medical care." It will also help physicians shift from treating illness to preventing it, he said.

"I think that's where we can make the greatest difference," Lynch said.

Governors remain opposed to demands the federal Real ID law places on states, Lynch said. It requires uniform standards for the issuance of driver's licenses in all states. Lynch said it puts motor vehicle workers on the front lines of homeland security.

"Part of the problem is that the federal government hasn't really issued regulations regarding Real ID, so there's a certain amount of ambiguity, and uncertainty as to how it is supposed to be implemented," he said.