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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 TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperBiden needs to fill the leadership gaps on Day One US meets troops reduction goal in Afghanistan, Iraq Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee 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 Sanders'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Biden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal Former Sanders spokesperson: Progressives 'shouldn't lose sight' of struggling Americans during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.) and conservative Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Former GOP congressman says he's leaving party: 'This has become a cult' 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 RoseWe lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money COVID-19 is wild card as Pelosi faces tricky Speaker vote Sunday Yang files to open campaign account for NYC mayor MORE (D-N.Y.) and Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting 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.