Trump’s cuts in funding for National Guard deployment may cost N.J. $3.5M

Posted Aug 06, 2020

President Donald Trump has decided to stop paying the full cost of deploying New Jersey National Guard troops to help fight the coronavirus, a move that could add $3.5 million to the cash-strapped state’s pandemic bill.

The president said he would continue to allow federal funds to be spent on National Guard troops through the end of the year, but require most states, including New Jersey, to shoulder 25% of the cost after Aug. 21, his original date for ending the deployment.

The White House decision adds another cost to a state already planning to borrow to pay its bills as the coronavirus-caused recession sapped tax collections, and seeking billions of dollars in additional federal aid to make up the loss in revenues.

The Guard troops have been used to help staff long-term health facilities, particularly those for veterans, in the state.

Gov. Phil Murphy faced blowback from some members of the state’s congressional delegation when ordered the state’s National Guard to Washington in response to protests over police brutality in June following the death of George Floyd. Murphy said the New Jersey troops were assigned to protect federal monuments, not to join federal efforts to rein in protesters near the White House.

Washington had been paying 100% of the entire cost since April 3 under a provision that allowed the state to oversee the Guard but tap federal funds to pay for them. The state paid $750,000 for the National Guard from March 14 until April 2 as New Jersey became one of the first states slammed by the virus.

“As Governor Murphy has repeatedly stressed, federal funding to states remains critical as we continue to battle COVID-19,” spokeswoman Alyana Alfaro Post said. “The National Guard is an integral part of our ongoing fight against this pandemic and we will continue to pursue a 100 percent cost share for our National Guard troops, as well as for FEMA,” the assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“During a national public health and financial crisis, the federal government should not be asking states to foot the bill on critical and previously collaborative initiatives,” she said.

National Guard Bureau spokesman Nahaku McFadden said he didn’t know why the funding was cut.

“The National Guard is prepared to support COVID missions at the request of the governors for as long as we are needed,” he said.

Depending on how many troops are deployed, the bill to the state could be $3.5 million, the governor’s office said. No decision has been made as to how many Guard members will be used.

“States and territories will have to look at their missions and look at the resources they have,” said John Goheen, a spokesman for the National Guard Association, which lobbies on behalf of the Guard. “This virus affects different states differently. The missions have varied around the country but clearly the Guard has been doing so many things.”

Under Trump’s order, the federal government will continue to pick up the total deployment cost in only two Republican-run states, Florida and Texas, a policy Goheen called “unusual.”

“We don’t know definitely the thought process on that,” Goheen said.

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