August 28, 2020

Duckworth, Durbin Join Leahy in Announcing New Bill to Restore National Guard Coronavirus Funding at 100 Percent


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in announcing their plans to introduce a bill to restore full federal funding for the National Guard’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“National Guard troops have been serving as frontline workers since the beginning of this pandemic, working to help keep their communities and their nation safe,” Duckworth said. “Trump’s decision to slash the federal funding that supports the deployment of these troops is infuriating, yet unsurprising given his repeated efforts to ignore and move on from a deadly pandemic that is still killing nearly 1,000 Americans every day.  I’m proud to be partnering with Senator Leahy and my colleagues on this legislation that would fully restore this critical funding.”

“The National Guard has been critical in implementing testing plans and supporting medical professionals during the COVID-19 crisis,” Durbin said. “As flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic are projected to converge this winter, we need their support more than ever, but without full funding from the federal government, states are at risk of losing the National Guard’s help.  The federal government must pay the full cost of keeping guardsmen on the ground as states struggle with their own significant revenue loss.”

On August 3, in the midst of a spike in newly reported coronavirus cases, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum terminating the 100 percent federal cost share with the National Guard that had been in effect since March for responding to coronavirus. The cost-share provides federal funding to pay the National Guard to carry out FEMA-approved missions to combat the pandemic. Pursuant to the memorandum, beginning on August 21, most states and territories found the cost share reduced to 75 percent, despite the persisting need for vital Guard operations related to the pandemic, such as operating testing sites, supporting medical professionals, distributing food, and other activities supporting local communities.  

Earlier this month, Duckworth and Durbin joined Leahy in sending a letter urging President Trump to restore the full funding to states for the National Guard forces responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Duckworth introduced the National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act to ensure that all National Guard troops activated in response to the pandemic receive additional benefits and provide states with greater certainty. Durbin is a cosponsor of the legislation. Duckworth has sent three letters on this issue, most recently leading the Illinois Congressional delegation in calling on President Trump to support Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s request to extend Title 32 authorization for National Guard servicemembers.

Text of the bill is available here.