- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Bipartisan opposition to cutting federal funds for the National Guard’s domestic COVID-19 response is growing among lawmakers who argue the move could lead to a reduction in Guard members if states can’t make up the funding difference.

The Trump administration last week extended the deployment of National Guard troops until the end of the year, but said that it would continue to foot 75% of the deployment costs, leaving states and territories to pick up the last 25% starting this month.

Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota, Texas, Wyoming and Florida were not included among the list of states that will begin the cost-sharing initiative.

Led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, Washington state Democrat, more than 115 lawmakers in a letter Tuesday urged President Trump to continue federal funding for the National Guard’s COVID-19 response in all states and U.S. territories.

“States are the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. Due to the additional costs and lost revenues caused by COVID-19, state and local governments are facing unprecedented pressures on their budgets,” the lawmakers wrote. “Not only will this take away state resources from other COVID-19 response efforts, but it has the potential to lead to a reduction in National Guard members supporting COVID-19 response.”

The extension of the Title 32 status provides continued pay and benefits for the deployed members of the National Guard. Mr. Trump in May extended the status, which was set to expire August 21. It will now last through December 31 with states expected to pay 25% of the costs beginning on August 21.

The lawmakers also highlighted the administration’s decision to leave six states out of the cost-share and said they are “alarmed” that some states were not included.

“Picking and choosing which states receive full Federal funding, whatever the rationale, sets a dangerous precedent and raises serious questions about the motivations for why certain states are selected and others are not,” they added.

“Every state is feeling the strain of this pandemic and the National Guard mission in each state is the same — to help the emergency response to the pandemic. We see no logical justification for treating states differently.”

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