“Somewhere around the first week in June, things should have slowed down if they hadn’t stopped completely,” he said. “But there was a lot of pressure on the administration and the quieter leaders prevailed. Now the majority of participants will be able to qualify for the benefits they deserve. “
Some lawmakers have questioned whether the initial June 24 cut was intended to deprive troops of federal benefits, which become available after 90 days of service for a federal emergency.
“You think they just shot 89 [days] a hat? Asked representative Max Rose (D-N.Y.), A veteran and National Guard captain who sent letters to the administration requesting an extension. ” No. It is not a coincidence. We are not idiots. ”
Even if states keep their troops on active service – which many states say is financially unable to do – that time would not count for federal benefits to soldiers and airmen.
“I will never tolerate any level of government trying to nickel-and-dime our soldiers,” said Rose following Thursday’s announcement. “They have gained these benefits and I thank President Trump for hearing our call and for reversing this heartless policy. “
Following the POLITICO report, a bipartisan group of more than 100 legislators, including Rose, urged Trump to extend federal support for the troops, warning that states would be hard pressed to pay the cost of deployments while they are still trying to contain the virus. Pressure intensified after Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved an extension last week, and National Guard general Joseph Lengyel recommended Trump extend the deployment until the end of July at least. And just before the president tweeted the extension, 42 governors sent him a letter asking for continued federal support for the Guard.
Still, some lawmakers and military officials have urged the Trump administration to maintain federal support even longer, warning that the Guard may be needed for virus containment efforts beyond the summer.
“We will have to see in August what needs we still have and if there is a second wave of Covid-19 in the fall at the peak of flu season,” warned Major General Matt Quinn, Montana and President of the National Association of Heads of Guard. “I hope that we will be a post where members of the Guard can resume civilian life and everything will be wonderful, but I have my doubts.”
Quinn, however, said the extension announced on Thursday was longer than expected by him and other officials. Deployments are typically made in 30 days, and the extension of almost two months threatens to undermine Trump’s repeated claims that the country needs to reopen faster and that the health crisis is almost over.
“I’m surprised,” said Quinn. “I think it’s an acknowledgment that it will last longer than expected. “
Another fight between the states and the federal government could break out later this summer. New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu has called for an extension of the federal deployment until September 30, while Colorado officials have asked for support until the end of the year. Dozens of House members urged the Trump administration in a recent letter to keep the federal deployment in place as long as its declarations of emergency and disaster are in effect.
Representative Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Who organized the letter, called the extension “not in the right direction”, but criticized the White House for “slowing down” the decision and sowing uncertainty among The troops.
“It shouldn’t have taken that long or required public pressure,” she said. “Leadership means doing the right thing – even when no one is watching. “