U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced a bill that would require the federal government to cover the full cost of National Guard deployments for COVID-19 response efforts.
A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate on Jan. 21 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). These are the first two bills in the new Congress.
Members of the National Guard have been deployed across the country to coordinate personal protective equipment deliveries, enhance testing capabilities, and deliver the vaccine. The Trump administration required states to cover a quarter of deployment costs. Incoming President Joe Biden said his administration intends to provide 100 percent reimbursement to states for COVID-19 support.
“American families are suffering, and this dire public health crisis requires every available resource to bring it to an end and save lives,” Bustos said. “With state resources spread thin, the Trump administration saddled cash-strapped states with the additional burden of paying for a portion of the National Guard’s critical response efforts. It’s past time for a national strategy that brings an end to these bureaucratic and political games to defeat this virus, and I applaud President-elect Biden’s commitment to doing so. I thank my colleagues for joining me in this effort and will continue to see to it that the National Guard and our states have the support they need through this public health crisis.”
Bustos has repeatedly called for the Trump Administration to be held accountable for its inadequate, piecemeal approach to the National Guard’s COVID-19 response efforts. She has asked the Department of Defense to provide answers for its inconsistent record on National Guard COVID-response funding.
“This legislation ensures that states aren’t financially punished for utilizing the National Guard to perform its primary mission-protecting the American People. Now, more than ever, the federal government must do everything it can to finally defeat COVID-19,” Ryan said.