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Womack, Bustos Lead Bipartisan Call to Reimburse National Guard for Capitol Security

National Guard budget shortfall would severely hinder military readiness, cancel trainings, negatively impact Citizen Soldiers and Airmen

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Washington, June 30, 2021 | comments

Washington, DC—June 30, 2021….Today, Representatives Steve Womack (AR-3) and Cheri Bustos (IL-17) led a call of nearly 70 lawmakers urging Congressional leadership to swiftly come to an agreement on emergency appropriations that includes full reimbursement for the National Guard, which is currently due nearly $521 million.

In response to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, more than 27,000 members of the National Guard – including nearly 1,000 Illinoisans – courageously responded to protect the Capitol building and preserve our democracy. Last month, the House passed the Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, which would cover the costs of the attack, and protect the Capitol and those who visit and work there. While this funding package awaits action in the Senate, the National Guard will begin preparations to cancel trainings starting in August, limiting their abilities to respond to future emergencies.

“Following the events of January 6th, the Guard responded to the Capitol in force and served dutifully for almost five months, keeping us, and the democracy we treasure, secure. This response came without hesitation and with the trust that we would take care of the National Guard Bureau and its more than 453,000 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen. As a result of this mission, the Guard is due nearly $521 million in reimbursement,” the members wrote.

“Department of Defense (DOD) leadership has stated that without a commitment to reimburse the Guard by July 1st, 2021, preparations will begin to cancel August and September annual training and individual duty training assemblies. Citizen Soldiers and Airmen, homeland response capabilities and our military readiness will be gravely affected without immediate action,” the members continued. “Without immediate action, the brave volunteers of our National Guard will suffer and the National Guard Bureau estimates its readiness will decrease by fifteen to twenty percent. We urge you to swiftly come to an agreement on emergency appropriations that includes full reimbursement for the National Guard.”

You can read full text of the letter here and below:

Dear House and Senate Leaders,

Throughout the first seven months of 2021, the nation faced unexpected emergencies demanding robust federal responses. As you continue to negotiate a deal to provide emergency appropriations to address these crises, we urge you to resolve the budget shortfall of the National Guard. Following the events of January 6th, the Guard responded to the Capitol in force and served dutifully for almost five months, keeping us, and the democracy we treasure, secure. This response came without hesitation and with the trust that we would take care of the National Guard Bureau and its more than 453,000 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen. As a result of this mission, the Guard is due nearly $521 million in reimbursement.

Department of Defense (DOD) leadership has stated that without a commitment to reimburse the Guard by July 1st, 2021, preparations will begin to cancel August and September annual training and individual duty training assemblies. Citizen Soldiers and Airmen, homeland response capabilities and our military readiness will be gravely affected without immediate action. When asked about the impact of not reimbursing the Guard during a June 23rd House Armed Services hearing on the FY22 DOD budget, Secretary Austin stated, “It will impact their ability in the near term to be able to train and adequately prepare the Guard for its future, for its current responsibilities,” and that failing to fund the Guard would “erode readiness”. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley added, “$500 million in the grand scheme of a $715 billion [overall Defense Department] budget may not seem like a lot, but to the National Guard, that is a lot.”

If trainings are canceled, several thousand Army National Guard Soldiers will not have enough service time this fiscal year to receive credit for a good year toward a military retirement. Approximately 2,000 training schools will be canceled, affecting their readiness, pay and career progression. Ground vehicle and rotary wing operations and maintenance will be halted. Facilities will degrade, including the delay of critical fire safety projects in Maryland, Minnesota and the Virgin Islands. Air National Guard flying operations will be negatively impacted as they begin recovery from the negative readiness effects of the pandemic. Without reimbursement this fiscal year, it will take years to recover our readiness.

Without immediate action, the brave volunteers of our National Guard will suffer and the National Guard Bureau estimates its readiness will decrease by fifteen to twenty percent. We urge you to swiftly come to an agreement on emergency appropriations that includes full reimbursement for the National Guard.

Sincerely,

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) has represented Arkansas’s Third Congressional District since 2011. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

womack.house.gov

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