Cantwell, Murray Press White House to Restore Full Funding for the National Guard’s COVID-19 Response
President Trump last week reduced federal reimbursement to states for National Guard units by 25 percent without explanation
WASHINGTON DC – This week, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 32 of their Senate colleagues in pressing President Trump to restore full funding to states for the National Guard forces responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year the White House authorized the use of federal dollars to reimburse states for 100 percent of the cost of deploying these National Guard units. However, on August 3 without explanation, President Trump reduced Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement for National Guard units from 100 percent to 75 percent in every state except Florida and Texas.
“The National Guard response has been critical within our states to supporting the health and well-being of millions of Americans…” Murray, Cantwell, and the colleagues wrote. “This new determination to reduce the cost share comes at the worst possible time, as positive cases continue to rise, and food security and other basic needs increase due to the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic.”
Since March, National Guard units in every state and territory have taken a variety of important actions to support the nation’s COVID-19 response, from distributing much-needed food, to running remote testing locations, to standing up alternate medical care facilities. In Washington state, according to Governor Jay Inslee’s office, as of July 13 “the Washington National Guard has delivered more than 1.3 million meals or 33.5 million pounds of food to struggling families at food banks across the state, tested over 14,000 people at community-based testing sites, and built more than 150,000 test kits.”
“We ask that you re-authorize one hundred percent cost share for all states and territories through at least December 31,” the senators concluded.
In April, Senator Murray sent a letter to President Trump demanding the extension of authorization for the National Guard to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which at the time was set to expire in May. The authorization was subsequently extended.
The full text of the letter is available below and HERE.
Dear Mr. President:
We write to request you restore one hundred percent Federal cost share to all states and territories for use of the National Guard under Title 32 of U.S. Code for responding to coronavirus, which was terminated by your August 3 memorandum for all states and territories except Florida and Texas. The National Guard response has been critical within our states to supporting the health and well-being of millions of Americans.
Congress has demonstrated repeatedly that we understand 32 USC 502(f) to include the ability for the National Guard, under command of state and territory governors, to respond with Federal resources to disasters that endanger Americans. Most recently, the CARES Act included funding specifically for COVID-19 response for the Army and Air National Guards, as requested by the Department of Defense. You determined to use reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at one hundred percent cost share, and the resulting mission has lessened the negative impacts for Americans.
This new determination to reduce the cost share comes at the worst possible time, as positive cases continue to rise, and food security and other basic needs increase due to the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic. Further, by singling out Florida and Texas for a full cost share as other states face challenges of similar magnitude, the decision appears arbitrary and without justification. Exacerbating the arbitrary and capricious decision, the White House on August 7 extended a short term restoration for some states to a one hundred percent cost share through September 30. This inequity among states is irrational.
We ask that you re-authorize one hundred percent cost share for all states and territories through at least December 31.
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