Kuster Introduces Legislation to Extend Federal Status, Benefits to Guard Troops Deployed During COVID-19 Pandemic
**The National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Sen. Tammy Duckworth**
Concord, N.H., May 22, 2020
Today, Representative Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to empower governors to extend federal deployments of their Guard units through the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) following the Trump Administration’s decision to end the National Guard’s deployments on June 24, 2020 – one day before the 90-day requirement the men and women who are serving our nation would need to reach to qualify for early retirement and post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
“Across the nation, the National Guard is working tirelessly to support communities through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “In the Granite State, the brave citizen soldiers and airmen of the New Hampshire National Guard are going above and beyond: from helping with testing sites and contact tracing to processing unemployment claims and partnering with food banks to feed those in need.”
“The Trump Administration’s decision to cut these COVID-19 deployments just short of the 90-day benchmark to receive benefits under the GI Bill is misguided and downright unpatriotic,” Kuster continued. “This move to deliberately prevent people from qualifying for these benefits will also bring an early end to the critical support that the National Guard is providing to communities in every state across the nation. I thank Senator Duckworth for her leadership and work on this legislation, and I am proud to introduce this bill in the House to ensure that the members of the National Guard receive the benefits they deserve for serving our nation in its time of need.”
“The Trump Administration’s repeated attempts to nickel and dime members of the National Guard would be wrong under any circumstance, but it is particularly offensive when these troops are responding to a deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed more than 90,000 Americans,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to work with Congresswoman Annie Kuster to introduce this legislation that would ensure that all National Guard troops activated to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are provided with the full benefits they’ve earned and will give states much-needed certainty during these uncertain times.”
“Members of the National Guard serving throughout New Hampshire are on the front lines of our fight against COVID-19, and we are deeply grateful for their service,” said Congressman Chris Pappas. “It is unconscionable that the soldiers and airmen of the National Guard would be nickel and dimed out of benefits that they have earned during this crisis. I could not disagree more strongly with this petty decision and have urged President Trump and the Department of Defense to reverse it immediately. I applaud Congresswoman Kuster for introducing this critical legislation to extend federal deployments of their Guard units through the duration of the COVID-19, and I am proud to be a co-sponsor as we work to ensure that when the National Guard has completed its mission supporting us, we support them.”
This legislation will ensure that Guard members can continue to accrue time-served towards the 90-day federal duty requirement while ensuring that states do not have to pick up the tab for their continued service. Kuster was joined by Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC Del), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-Al), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Anna Eshoo (CA-14), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Linda Sanchez (CA-38), Anthony Brown (MD-04), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-12), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), David Trone (MD-06), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Peter Welch (VT-Al), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Angie Craig (MN-02), and Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) to introduce this legislation.