The National Guard is warning that its readiness and future training will be at risk if the $521 million cost of the mission to protect the Capitol after the January 6 rioting isn't reimbursed.
"Without reimbursement funding, there is significant impact on National Guard readiness if we're not able to resolve this in a timely manner," Army General Daniel R. Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau said in a statement.
Approximately 26,000 National Guard troops were sent to Washington, D.C., for President Biden's inauguration as a precaution following the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The number dropped to around 5,000 in March, but at the request of the U.S. Capitol Police, the Guard extended its mission and kept roughly 2,200 service members through mid-May, finally wrapping up May 23.
All 54 states and territories contributed to the mission to protect the Capitol, and Brigadier General Craig Strong told reporters Friday the funding gap will have an effect on the readiness accounts of all of the states and territories.
"Given what the National Guard has done in the last 18 months, we would be sending a terrible message to thousands of dedicated men and women of the Illinois National Guard who have taken the oath to support and defend the Constitution," Major General Richard R. Neely of Illinois said, adding that the Illinois National Guard faces a potential shortfall of $31 million.
Lawmakers have voiced support for the Guard but haven't settled on a resolution yet because differences remain over what should be included in the bill.
In May, the House passed a $1.9 billion supplemental bill to fund the National Guard, but it's been opposed by Republicans because it would also fund the prosecution of January 6 perpetrators.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama introduced a bill last week that would give a total of $633 billion to ease the immediate money problems for the National Guard and Capitol Police, and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced a broader $3.7 billion bill that would provide the National Guard with $521 million and provide for things like humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees. On Friday, Representatives Ken Calvert and Steve Womack introduced a bill that focuses solely on the money needed by the Guard.
Major General Roger D. Lyles of Indiana said the impact on soldiers and their families would be drastic because they rely on the predictability of having the paycheck from August and September drill weekends to pay their family expenses. He said that after the year the service members have had, it's important not to introduce unpredictability or unnecessary risk into their lives.
In addition to its work protecting lawmakers and the president earlier this year, the National Guard has helped deliver over 12 million vaccines to Americans and helped victims of historic fires and hurricanes.
First published on July 16, 2021 / 5:09 PM
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