(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter this week with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) to Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller requesting he extend the authorization and cover 100 percent of the costs for the New Hampshire National Guard (NHNG) to serve, activated under 502(f) authority. The extension and 100 percent reimbursement would enable the New Hampshire National Guard to continue its support of the fight against COVID-19 through March 31, 2021. Funding is currently authorized through December 31, 2020.
The delegation wrote, “The NHNG continues to play a critical role in the state’s COVID-19 emergency response and currently has 190 members conducting COVID scheduling and test site staffing, voluntary contact tracing and receiving, staging and distributing medical supplies. The NHNG is prepared activate an additional 75 members to stand up and staff critical Alternate Care sites as needed.”
The lawmakers went on to highlight the role the Guard will play in staffing vaccination sites when vaccines becomes available, which will include 175 to 250 members to staff sites and manage increased state warehousing operations.
Shaheen, Hassan, Kuster and Pappas closed their letter by underscoring the ongoing need for the National Guard’s support in New Hampshire’s COVID-19 response. They wrote, “All of these efforts are essential to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on New Hampshire citizens and the need for this support is expected to persist into the foreseeable future. As we continue to see a resurgence of coronavirus cases across the country, we share the Governor’s concern that prematurely ceasing federal funding for National Guard COVID-19 support operations will hinder New Hampshire’s ability to respond and could contribute to increased infections in the state.”
The letter can be read in full here.
Earlier this year, President Trump reduced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement for National Guard units from 100 percent to 75 percent, with no explanation, and with the unexplained exception of several states. Since March, National Guard units in every state and territory have supported key COVID-19 response efforts, from distributing much-needed food, to running remote testing locations and standing up alternate medical care facilities. The congressional delegation issued a joint statement, slamming the President’s decision to approve a Guard activation extension at only 75 percent federal reimbursement for New Hampshire and other states, with no explanation. The delegation has repeatedly pushed the President to restore the full funding for the New Hampshire National Guard.