Trump chooses Texas, Florida for help in coronavirus response

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Other states will now have to pay a quarter of the cost of National Guard deployments to their states, though their governors have also asked the federal government to continue to foot the full bill. A White House official said Trump made an exception for Texas and Florida because their governors – who have a close relationship with Trump – have made “special and direct cases of the president.”

“With the lives of Americans in danger, the president continues to manipulate our country’s pandemic response for the benefit of his own political fortunes,” Noam Lee, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, said in a statement. “National Guard deployments are the latest development in partisan games the president has played with states in search of critical supplies and assistance. “When asked why Texas and Florida received special treatment, the White House official only pointed out direct appeals from governors in those states, not the unique circumstances of those states.

“The governors of Texas and Florida have made direct representations to the president that maintaining 100% cost-sharing is necessary to support the Guard’s efforts in their states,” a White House official told CNN. “Florida and Texas were the only states to submit specific and direct cases to the president. ”

The National Governors Association, however, said governors across the country have requested extended appeals with the White House, including with President and Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump’s focus on a direct call from governors to ensure full funding for National Guard deployments is just the latest example of Trump and his aides asking governors to ask the president directly for help and, in some cases, to thank him publicly. for coronavirus assistance.

Title 32 statute provides federal funding for National Guard deployments across the country while allowing these forces to remain under the control of state governors as they help staff community test sites and build test kits, among other activities.

A Department of Defense official told CNN last week that an extension was under discussion and should take place.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense said the federal government’s response “must continue to evolve with changing circumstances.”

But in a series of memos this week, the White House announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency “will fund 75% of emergency assistance activities associated with prevention, mitigation and response. the threat to public health and safety posed by the virus. these states and territories pledge to use their National Guard forces, “leaving the remaining 25% to state coverage.”

“The president should give the federal government’s full support to this mission. The president is also playing politics by picking a few states for special treatment over others and not responding adequately with the gravity needed to deal with the crisis, ”said House Armed President of Services Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington, said in a statement.

For states, cost sharing means millions of additional expenses.

“It will cost states millions (we don’t have a more precise number) to achieve their 25% equality at a time when state budgets are already under unprecedented pressure,” said James Nash. , National Governors Association press secretary. , in an email.

Since March, the federal government has footed the bill for National Guard units deployed across the country to assist states in their response to the coronavirus.

In late May, Trump extended federal funding for National Guard deployments until mid-August, saying at the time that the extension would help “states succeed in their response and recovery efforts.”

But to meet Covid’s security requirements, Air Guard and Army support staff had to demobilize no later than August 7, according to a Defense official. This alarmed governors who braced themselves last weekend for the possibility that an extension would not be granted.

On Monday, the National Association of Governors urged the administration to continue the mission of the National Guard. “Unnecessary delays in extending Title 32 create significant challenges for states and territories, which are magnified in the midst of a crisis,” the association said in a statement.

Texas and Florida, however, were the only two states that remained in the status quo with 100% of costs covered by the federal government.

“President @RealDonaldTrump released a memorandum granting Florida full federal funding for @ FLGuard’s continued response to the # COVID19 pandemic. Thanks to @POTUS for their continued support of our state. Florida Guardsmen are the best in the country! Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Twitter.

The decision ultimately rests with Trump. Earlier this week, Pence said he expected Title 32 to be extended “in one form or another,” allowing states to use their National Guard units while the federal government continues to pay the bill.

Pence, responding to a question from Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, during a call with governors Monday, said a decision could be made in the “next few days.”

“I know he is carefully reviewing the requests,” Pence said of Trump. “I would tell any governor who has not formalized a request to send something directly to your regional representative before the end of the business day. “

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