Maryland Lawmaker Attempts to Stonewall Bill to Block Deployment of National Guard in Undeclared War

by | Mar 13, 2024

Maryland Lawmaker Attempts to Stonewall Bill to Block Deployment of National Guard in Undeclared War

by | Mar 13, 2024

National Guard Afghanistan

FILE PHOTO: Army National Guard troops deployed in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, February 2010. (Credit: Missouri National Guard / Sgt. Jon E. Dougherty)

A bill in the Maryland state legislature that would block the deployment of the state’s national guard to overseas conflicts unless Congress has declared war is being blocked by a committee chairwoman preventing a vote. One guardsman is arguing that the bill – Defend the Guard – needs to move forward urgently as the Maryland Guard is set to deploy to the Middle East.

In an exchange on X, Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk, who chairs the committee overseeing the bill, said she would not allow it to come up for a vote. “Federal law allows the National Guard to be called into federal active duty domestically & overseas,” she argued. “According to the attorney general’s office, the General Assembly is preempted from prohibiting such. They stated that HB 220 is unconstitutional.”

One of her colleagues, Delegate Robin Grammar, fired back that the law only restricts deployments to unconstitutional wars. “I’m also aware that the AG thinks it is constitutional to criminalize carry rights on EVERY SINGLE private property in the state. His opinion was so bad he got enjoined by a LIBERAL court.” He explained on X, “We must obey the Constitution which limits deployments to constitutional declarations!”

Dan McKnight, who leads a group that champions Defend the Guard legislation nationwide, said that the chairwoman was ignoring the opinions of veterans. “The immense outpouring of support for HB 220 during its hearing demonstrates its popularity among all Marylanders, particularly veterans,” he said in a statement to the Libertarian Institute. “Chairwoman Peña-Melnyk is refusing to bring the bill forward for an on-the-record vote…The legality of this bill is as clear and stray forward as the language of Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution.”

One of those veterans is Maryland guardsman Scott Spaulding, a Baltimore County teacher and Purple Heart Veteran. He expressed his frustration at the legislative inaction as some of his fellow guardsmen prepare for a deployment to the Middle East. 

“The General Assembly had an opportunity the last three years to pass Defend the Guard, I warned them that inaction would result in Maryland’s guard being sent to kill or be killed, now, Maryland’s Guard A-10 attack aircraft are going to active conflict during the holy month of Ramadan,” he told the Institute. “I will have to explain to Maryland high schoolers from Yemen, Iraq & Syria why their new state is bombing their home country.”

In January, three members of the Georgia National Reserve were killed by a drone strike in Jordan near the border with Syria, and members of the Arizona National Guard were also injured. The Pentagon regularly deploys members of state national guard to war zones, even if Congress has not authorized the war. 

McKnight believes that Defend the Guard can help to rein in the executive fighting endless and undeclared wars without congressional oversight. His group Bring Our Troops Home has worked to advance the legislation in several states.

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles

Related

Sweden Is Open to Hosting NATO Nuclear Weapons

Sweden Is Open to Hosting NATO Nuclear Weapons

The Swedish prime minister said his country would be willing to host nuclear weapons during a war. The North Atlantic Alliance has a nuclear sharing program that has US nuclear weapons deployed in five countries. The Polish leader recently said he hopes Warsaw can one...

read more