WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Armed Services Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) led 68 Members of Congress in pressing President Trump to immediately waive National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cost-sharing requirements for all states and territories amid the national COVID-19 pandemic response. State, local, territorial and tribal governments’ budgets have been hammered by the ongoing public health crisis.
Additionally, the Trump administration initially carved out exceptions to cover 100 percent of National Guard costs for Texas and Florida through the end of the year, and then subsequentially granted Arizona, California, and Connecticut temporary 100 percent coverage through September 30th - despite evidence that other states and territories are enduring equal, if not greater, impacts of COVID-19 outbreaks. The Trump administration has offered zero insight to explain its decision-making about these exceptions.
“An estimated 25,000 National Guard troops are currently deployed throughout the country selflessly providing crucial assistance to state and local government COVID-19 responses,” the Members wrote in their letter. “These states and territories, which are already under immense financial strain due to COVID-19, will have difficultly providing all the needed services to their communities if they are burdened with the additional costs of the National Guard’s crucial assistance.”
The Members continued: “While we applaud the monumental efforts of the National Guard and FEMA to help state and local communities throughout the country, we believe SLTT governments have endured additional and unnecessary hardship because of these cost-sharing requirements and the lack of a more robust Federal response…. It is time for the Federal government to step up and finally fulfill its role as a leader during a crisis.”
In their letter, the Members demanded that the President make transparent the decision making behind these cost-sharing requirements by answering several questions.
A full copy of the letter can be found here.