Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are among a group of 34 senators calling on President Donald Trump to restore full funding to states to cover the cost of the National Guard responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Guard units across the country have helped states respond to the pandemic since March, from distributing much-needed food to running remote testing locations, to standing up alternate medical care facilities.
Initially, the White House authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse states for the cost of those National Guard mobilizations. However, on Aug. 3, FEMA cut the reimbursement from 100 percent to 75 percent for all states and territories other than Texas and Florida.
A White House official said the two states were exempted because of a personal appeal from those states’ governors. Three additional states received a short-term additional federal match to reach full federal cost share until Oct. 1.
“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,” the senators 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… We ask that you re-authorize one hundred percent cost share for all states and territories through at least December 31.”