PROVIDENCE, RI -- With members of the Rhode Island National Guard returning home over the weekend from their deployment to our nation’s capital, where they successfully helped facilitate the inauguration of President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) says more federal dollars will also be heading to Rhode Island to cover the costs of the Guard’s COVID-19 response costs.

The Rhode Island National Guard has played a crucial role in helping to combat the pandemic, with Soldiers and Airmen running testing sites, screening travelers at airports, assisting contact tracing efforts, and offering critical logistical support amid the pandemic.  This month, the Guard has also begun administering vaccine shots to health care workers, first responders, and eventually, the general public.

President Biden signed an executive order on his second day in office directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fully reimburse Rhode Island and other states for the costs incurred by the National Guard during their pandemic response efforts.

“The Rhode Island National Guard is on the frontlines in the COVID-19 fight and their efforts have been heroic.  I encouraged President Biden to reimburse cash-strapped states for this COVID-19 mission cost because it will help save lives and free up funds to improve pandemic response.  The Rhode Island National Guard is broadening their life-saving support and ramping up efforts to increase vaccine distribution.  This move helps ensure the money is there to cover those costs,” said Senator Reed, who met with Rhode Island Soldiers and Airmen who were deployed to the U.S. Capital region to help defend the U.S. Capitol after it was attacked by a violent, right-wing extremist mob seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election.  “The Guard’s work is absolutely critical to the health of our people, communities, and the nation and is essential to reopening our economy too.”

Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, had long urged the Trump Administration to fully cover the costs of the Guard’s Title 32 COVID-19 deployments.  The Trump Administration complied with some of these requests in the early stages of the pandemic and initially covered 100 percent of the associated costs for deployment.  But in August, the Trump Administration changed gears and forced Rhode Island and other states to cover 25 percent of the National Guard Title 32 deployment expenses, shifting an $8.5 million burden onto the state.

Moreover, the 75 percent reimbursement rate for states was scheduled to expire at the end of March 2021.  President Biden’s executive order authorizes a 100 percent reimbursement rate through September 31, 2021.