Ohio lawmakers request full federal funding for Ohio National Guard’s response to COVID-19

Ohio Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are urging federal officials to support Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s request to restore and extend full federal funding for the Ohio National Guard’s COVID-19 response mission.

Since the pandemic hit, approximately 2,000 members of the Ohio National Guard have been on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio. They have maintained testing sites, responded to outbreaks, and distributed PPE. They have also helped to distribute more than 33 million pounds of food at foodbanks across Ohio.

DeWine has requested full federal funding be reinstated for the Ohio National Guard’s COVID-19 response through March 31, 2021. Still, the federal government has only covered 75 percent of the costs associated with Ohio’s National Guard response. The federal government previously authorized full federal funding. Without action, the Ohio National Guardsmen will end their missions on December 17th to permit a 2-week quarantine period.

“The Ohio National Guard has been instrumental in supporting the State of Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We, as a bipartisan, bicameral Ohio delegation, write to express our support for the request made by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to restore and extend full federal funding for up to 1,800 members of the Ohio National Guard through March 31, 2021,” the Ohio lawmakers wrote to the heads of Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of Management and Budget, and the Defense Department. “Ohio Guardsmen have significantly increased the response capacity in Ohio by maintaining testing sites, staging, and distributing personal protective equipment, and assisting foodbanks in distributing more than 33 million pounds of food to Ohioans in need.”

Along with Portman and Brown, the letter was also signed by Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Mike Turner (R-OH), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Warren Davidson (R-OH), and Jim Jordan (R-OH).

“Like other frontline responders, Ohio’s foodbanks find themselves approaching the end of the current Ohio National Guard mission in the midst of surging COVID-19 cases,” Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said. “As much as it pains us to see growing need for help with emergency food, and to have to respond to that need with the added logistical challenges of operating in a pandemic environment, we have also been buoyed by each of the soldiers and airmen serving alongside us. They are more critical than ever to our ability to keep food moving safely and efficiently to record numbers of Ohioans.”

Dave Kovaleski

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