125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic

125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic
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More than 120 Republican and Democratic lawmakers have signed a letter urging the Trump administration to provide additional support to National Guard troops during the pandemic.

Among several requests, the lawmakers — comprised of 95 Democrats, 29 Republicans and one Independent — are requesting guardsmen be eligible for retirement benefits after their deployment on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

It also calls for the administration to maintain federal status for National Guard troops rather than transitioning them to state active duty to ensure access to health care, and offering guardsmen flexibility in how they use leave accrued during the pandemic. 

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"We encourage you to be inclusive of pandemic response affiliated military service to ensure that National Guard personnel are not being inappropriately prevented from accessing the benefits earned by their service," the lawmakers wrote in a letter addressed to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Senate Democrats demand to see copies of Trump's intelligence briefings on Russian bounties Overnight Defense: Top general says military must take 'hard look' at Confederate symbols on installations | Milley vows to 'get to bottom' of Russia bounty intel | Woman to join Green Berets for first time MORE and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor.

The letter was spearheaded by the National Guard Association of the United States, which says it represents nearly 45,000 current and former National Guard officers. Signatories include figures such as progressive firebrand Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Puerto Rico primary In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Biden wins Louisiana primary MORE (I-Vt.) and conservative Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOh, Canada: Should the US emulate Canada's National Health Service? Trump tweets his support for Goya Foods amid boycott Trump says he'll sign order with 'road to citizenship' for DACA recipients MORE (R-Texas), while a number of members of Congress who also serve in the National Guard signed the letter, including Reps. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), Max RoseMax RoseAlarm grows over Americans stranded in Yemen amid pandemic Moderate House Democrats introduce bill aimed at stopping China from exploiting coronavirus pandemic Republican Nicole Malliotakis wins New York primary to challenge Max Rose MORE (D-N.Y.) and Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFinancial firms facing serious hacking threat in COVID-19 era Gabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-Hawaii).

This week Politico reported that FEMA said in an interagency call on May 12 that guardsmen will face a “hard stop” on June 24 to prevent them from reaching the 90 days of duty credit needed to qualify for early retirement and education benefits. Deployed in late March, most will hit 89 days of duty credit on June 24.

The lawmakers noted in their letter Friday that the National Guard has played a critical role in helping states with medical tasks and in some cases conducting elections. 

“The National Guard has been critical in executing the nation’s pandemic response efforts. Thousands of National Guard service members have been providing invaluable support for testing civilians and Guard personnel, logistics and warehouse distribution, planning for Emergency Operations Centers, homelessness outreach, and much more,” the lawmakers wrote.