Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020
President Trump on Monday reauthorized funding for the National Guard to assist states with their response to the coronavirus pandemic, though the administration reduced the level of federal cost-sharing from existing levels.
The White House issued a memo to the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security that the federal funding will extend through the end of 2020. The move comes as governors in both parties were pleading with the administration to extend the National Guard assistance, warning that a lapse in funding could jeopardize the pandemic response.
The memo indicates that the federal government will no longer cover 100 percent for states’ use of National Guard forces for the COVID-19 response once the existing authorization expires on Aug. 21.
Instead, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will fund 75 percent of the National Guard’s activities related to “preventing, mitigating, and responding to the threat to public health and safety posed by the virus.”
The Trump administration will maintain 100 percent funding for just a few states, however, including Texas and Florida. Both states have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and both are critical to Trump’s reelection hopes.
States have been using the National Guard to help operate testing sites and distribute food and medical supplies.
The National Governors Association (NGA) earlier Monday urged Trump to extend the federal funding and benefits, known as Title 32 authority, without delay.
The governors warned that they have to start transitioning the forces to state control and funding well ahead of that deadline, though, disrupting planning for the coronavirus response.
The looming lapse in funding was a major point of discussion in a call among governors and Vice President Pence earlier in the day, according to a person on the call. States were not given advance notice before the memo was put out publicly on Monday night, the person said.
Updated at 10:36 p.m.
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