(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today joined U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Max Rose (NY-11) and Deb Haaland (NM-01) and more than 30 lawmakers in urging the Trump Administration to extend the activations of men and women in the National Guard for the entire duration of the declared disasters and emergencies so they can continue to assist with the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic uninterrupted. The letter demands the Administration explain the change in the federal cost-share of National Guard deployments which will force cash-strapped states to cover a quarter of the cost, resulting in states being burdened with millions in unforeseen expenses. The lawmakers also raised concerns about why Florida and Texas are the only states exempt from the new cost-share agreements.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, members of the National Guard have been deployed across the country to assist with public health responses to this disaster. For the past several months, the Administration has covered 100 percent of the associated costs for deployment, until they recently reversed course. This week the Trump Administration announced it will only pay 75 percent of the costs and demand states and territories cover the remaining 25 percent, while making an unexplained exception exclusively for Florida and Texas.
The Administration also failed to implement a reliable plan for how long members of the National Guard will be activated to serve their neighbors in need. Rather than provide servicemembers and the states they serve consistency, the Administration has frequently waited until the last minute to extend activations that were set to expire soon – leaving states in the lurch as they continue to respond to the pandemic and servicemembers facing an uncertain future.
“While COVID-19 has thrown our nation into both a public health and economic crisis, the National Guard has stepped up to help, just as it has done so many times before,” the members wrote. “Our nation continues to rely on the expertise of the men and women of the National Guard to respond to the public health aspects of this disaster, from coordinating PPE deliveries to enhancing testing capabilities.”
“If recent trends are any guide, this pandemic is far from over. Give the states the help they need, for as long as they need it. Do it in a consistent manner,” the members continue. “Likewise, the men and women of the National Guard who continue to make sacrifices for our public health need to be able to rely on consistent pay and healthcare coverage. There is no reason to continue playing bureaucratic and political games with either our governors or our neighbors in uniform. We look forward to your response and hope to hear about plans for a coherent, conditions-based strategy for the continued deployment of the National Guard.”
You can view full text of the letter here.