Biden promises federal government will pay for National Guard coronavirus work: ‘That should be paid for’
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he will guarantee full funding for the National Guard’s work addressing the coronavirus pandemic while criticizing President Trump for demanding that most states pay for 25 percent of the costs associated with the Guard’s relief efforts.
“It costs a lot of money and governors need that paid for,” Biden told Politico after a meeting Thursday with a bipartisan group of governors. “The fact is that this is a national emergency — that’s what [Federal Emergency Management Agency] FEMA is supposed to deal with. Our view is that should be done.
“When it comes to deploying the National Guard for COVID relief, that should be paid for,” Biden added.
Biden’s promise came as President Trump has demanded that states cover 25 percent of the costs associated with the Guard’s efforts.
Throughout the pandemic, National Guard members have helped states run testing sites, hospitals and contact tracing, among other efforts to combat the virus.
According to Politico, the Trump administration’s current authorization of approximately 20,000 Guard members expires on Dec. 31, although several states have requested an extension.
This comes as the country experiences a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, especially in the Midwest, with experts saying a vaccine will likely not be available for wide distribution to the general public until the spring or summer of 2021.
In the past week, the U.S. has had an average of more than 162,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, a 77 percent increase from just two weeks prior, according to The New York Times coronavirus database.
John Goheen, spokesperson for the National Guard Association, told Politico that more Guard members are “being sent into prisons and nursing homes, and the need is only going to increase as winter approaches.”
During a virtual address following his meeting with governors, Biden said he would provide additional funding for the National Guard, and also signaled the possibility of a nationwide mask mandate.
Biden also vowed that he would not implement a nationwide shutdown as part of his planned responses to the pandemic.
“I’m not going to shut down the economy, period. I’m going to shut down the virus,” Biden said. “I’ll say it again. No national shutdown.”
Updated Monday at 9:33 a.m.