Governor Gretchen Whitmer has slammed the Trump administration for denying a request that the federal government pay for National Guard operations in response to COVID-19. The governor’s office has released the following:
Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement after President Trump rejected her request to fully fund National Guard activities and provide Guard members with federal pay and benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. After Governor Whitmer reiterated her request for a phone call with President Trump to discuss National Guard funding, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Doug Hoelscher left a voicemail for the governor’s Chief of Staff saying that the president has rejected Governor Whitmer‘s request, and has decided to provide only 75 percent federal cost share through the end of the year.
“Just yesterday, on the day the United States surpassed 190,000 COVID deaths, we learned that the President admitted on tape in February that he knew the dangers of this virus and purposely downplayed it. Now, he is continuing to play political games while American lives and livelihoods are on the line. The president’s blatantly partisan cuts to funding for National Guard units in all but five states is dangerous and could cost American lives. Our Guard members have been vital to our COVID-19 response by testing thousands of people in communities across the state during the height of the pandemic, and will be crucial to our recovery efforts moving forward. It’s irresponsible and irrational to fully fund National Guard activities in some states but not others. We need the president to step up and do the right thing for Michigan families, our frontline workers, and our economy. I once again implore President Trump to reconsider his decision and fully fund the Michigan National Guard under Title 32, just like he has in five other states, so our Guardsmen and women can continue to protect us from this deadly virus.”
On August 3 and 7, President Trump issued six memoranda which extended Title 32 authority for 49 states and territories. The memoranda imposed a 25 percent state cost share for most states, but maintained full federal funding for Florida, Texas, Arizona, Connecticut, and California. Governor Whitmer has repeatedly reached out to President Trump to urge him to provide full federal funding for the Michigan National Guard through December 31, 2020, including sending the president a letter on August 12.
The Michigan National Guard has performed widespread testing and screening in local communities, Michigan Department of Corrections facilities, and nursing homes throughout the state. The Guard has also distributed personal protective equipment, assisted at food banks, and supported public safety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Michigan congressional delegation has voiced bipartisan support for 100 percent federal funding for the Michigan National Guard. On August 10, Congressman Fred Upton and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell led a letter signed by thirteen of Michigan’s fourteen representatives to FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor urging the Administration to provide full federal funding for the Michigan National Guard COVID-19 response. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have also called on the president to restore full federal funding under Title 32 authority.