Congress has been dragging its feet on reimbursement to the National Guard for its deployment to DC. They owe $521 Million for the months long deployment – and without that money, the National Guard will have to stop training as of August. The House passed a reimbursement bill in May that also contained other items, and the Senate has not done so. The Senate bill has portions that have nothing to do with reimbursing the National Guard. Time is running out, however, as paychecks and training funds come up against a stone wall from Congress.
Units will have to ground aircraft, cancel long-planned summer training operations and weekend drills, and the Guard’s 54th Security Force Assistance Brigade could miss a rotation to a major combat training center without the funding by Aug. 1, top Guard officials from several states said in a news briefing...take our poll - story continues below
The roughly $1.9 billion Capitol security bill passed in May by the House includes repayment for the Guard, overtime pay and other cost reimbursements for the U.S. Capitol deployments and other funds to create a quick response security force for the Capitol.
This week, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, unveiled a $3.7 billion bill that includes Guard and Capitol police funding and more funds for the Pentagon’s coronavirus response. Republicans immediately balked at the bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s top Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, introduced a $633 million bill that would repay the National Guard and provide some funds to the Capitol police.
With August a couple of weeks away, National Guard leaders have spent hours every day on the phone with lawmakers describing the problems that the funding gap could cause the military, Neely said. Their confidence has waned that they will receive the needed cash.
The National Guard’s 54th Security Forces Assistance Brigade is a case in point. It has Guard battalions from Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Ohio, and Texas. They are set to deploy overseas in August, and begin at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. Without the reimbursement money from Congress, they’ll have to deploy without the training, which means they will not be properly prepared.
Without reimbursement, troops also face losing their Guard pay for August and September.
”Time is running out. The loss of these funds will have a major impact on our readiness for federal missions and for state emergencies here in the state of Illinois…I feel horrible as a leader, having to go back and tell my soldiers and my airmen that I may not be able to pay them for August and September drill. And those are checks that they count on to support their families, to feed their families, and to go to college and all those sorts of things.”
Air Force Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, top officer for Illinois National Guard
Once again, the pork in bills causes divisive infighting that leaves the real needs behind. Adding unrelated items to a necessary bill is a common issue in Congress. Instead of working for the American people, they work for themselves.
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