Udall, Heinrich Urge Trump to Reverse Federal Cuts to NM National Guard’s COVID-19 Response

Letter follows Trump administration order withdrawing full disaster relief reimbursement for National Guard COVID-19 response from all states, including New Mexico, while Florida and Texas got exemptions

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined 33 senators in a letter to President Donald J. Trump, urging his administration to restore full funding to states like New Mexico in order to maintain critical National Guard unit services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the president reduced Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement for National Guard units from 100 percent to 75 percent, with the exception of Florida and Texas, without sufficient explanation for the disparate treatment.

New Mexico’s National Guard and Air National Guard have provided lifesaving support to New Mexicans since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March. Units across the state have delivered hot meals, supplied water to remote communities experiencing pandemic-related supply disruptions and administered COVID-19 testing. The president’s order removes key federal support for New Mexico’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the midst of a national spike in cases and economic crisis gutting state and local government budgets.

“Most recently, the CARES Act included funding specifically for COVID-19 response for the Army and Air National Guards, as requested by the Department of Defense,” the senators wrote. “You determined to use reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at one hundred percent cost share, and the resulting mission has lessened the negative impacts for Americans.

“This new determination to reduce the cost share comes at the worst possible time, as positive cases continue to rise, and food security and other basic needs increase due to the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic,” the senators continued. “Further, by singling out Florida and Texas for a full cost share as other states face challenges of similar magnitude, the decision appears arbitrary and without justification. Exacerbating the arbitrary and capricious decision, the White House on August 7 extended a short term restoration for some states to a one hundred percent cost share through September 30. This inequity among states is irrational.”

The full text of the senator’s letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to request you restore one hundred percent Federal cost share to all states and territories for use of the National Guard under Title 32 of U.S. Code for responding to coronavirus, which was terminated by your August 3 memorandum for all states and territories except Florida and Texas. The National Guard response has been critical within our states to supporting the health and well- being of millions of Americans.

Congress has demonstrated repeatedly that we understand 32 USC 502(f) to include the ability for the National Guard, under command of state and territory governors, to respond with Federal resources to disasters that endanger Americans. Most recently, the CARES Act included funding specifically for COVID-19 response for the Army and Air National Guards, as requested by the Department of Defense. You determined to use reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at one hundred percent cost share, and the resulting mission has lessened the negative impacts for Americans.

This new determination to reduce the cost share comes at the worst possible time, as positive cases continue to rise, and food security and other basic needs increase due to the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic. Further, by singling out Florida and Texas for a full cost share as other states face challenges of similar magnitude, the decision appears arbitrary and without justification. Exacerbating the arbitrary and capricious decision, the White House on August 7 extended a short term restoration for some states to a one hundred percent cost share through September 30. This inequity among states is irrational.

We ask that you re-authorize one hundred percent cost share for all states and territories through at least December 31.

Sincerely,