Rose Helps Lead Call for Trump Administration to Stop Playing Political Games with National Guard COVID-19 Response Efforts
Congressman and more than 30 lawmakers demand explanation after Administration exempts some states over others
Staten Island, August 6, 2020
Congressman Max Rose joined with Congresswomen Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Deb Haaland of New Mexico yesterday to lead more than 30 lawmakers urging the Trump Administration to extend the activations of men and women in the National Guard for the entire duration of the declared disasters and emergencies so they can continue to assist with the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic uninterrupted.
“This Administration continues to discount the gravity of the pandemic and the critical role the National Guard plays in the response,” said Rose, an Army combat veteran who continues to serve in the National Guard. “It undermines the Guard’s mission to wait till the last moment to extend orders, and disrespects their incredible service and contributions to slash federal funding. Our soldiers deserve better.”
The letter demands the Administration explain the change in the federal cost-share of National Guard deployments which will force cash-strapped states to cover a quarter of the cost, resulting in states being burdened with millions in unforeseen expenses. The lawmakers also raised concerns about why Florida and Texas are the only states exempt from the new cost-share agreements.
“While COVID-19 has thrown our nation into both a public health and economic crisis, the National Guard has stepped up to help, just as it has done so many times before,” the members wrote. “Our nation continues to rely on the expertise of the men and women of the National Guard to respond to the public health aspects of this disaster, from coordinating PPE deliveries to enhancing testing capabilities.”
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, members of the National Guard have been deployed across the country to assist with public health responses to this disaster. For the past several months, the Administration has covered 100 percent of the associated costs for deployment, until they recently reversed course. This week the Trump Administration announced it will only pay 75 percent of the costs and demand states and territories cover the remaining 25 percent, while making an unexplained exception exclusively for Florida and Texas.
The Administration also failed to implement a reliable plan for how long members of the National Guard will be activated to serve their neighbors in need. Rather than provide servicemembers and the states they serve consistency, the Administration has frequently waited until the last minute to extend activations that were set to expire soon—leaving states in the lurch as they continue to respond to the pandemic and servicemembers facing an uncertain future.
“If recent trends are any guide, this pandemic is far from over. Give the states the help they need, for as long as they need it. Do it in a consistent manner,” the members continue. “Likewise, the men and women of the National Guard who continue to make sacrifices for our public health need to be able to rely on consistent pay and healthcare coverage. There is no reason to continue playing bureaucratic and political games with either our governors or our neighbors in uniform. We look forward to your response and hope to hear about plans for a coherent, conditions-based strategy for the continued deployment of the National Guard.”
In May, following pressure by Rose, President Trump announced that he will extend federal orders for National Guard deployments into August. The Administration previously ordered National Guard deployments end on June 24, just one day before thousands of soldiers would qualify for education and retirement benefits.
Rose slammed the decision to end deployments at 89 days, calling it “heartless” and helped lead a bipartisan effort of more than 70 lawmakers urging the Administration to extend the activations of men and women in the National Guard for the duration of the President’s emergency and disaster declarations so they can continue to assist with the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rose deployed for two weeks with the National Guard in April to assist in the coronavirus response where he helped set up a COVID-only emergency hospital on Staten Island.
Full text of the letter HERE.