4/03/2020 — 

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Today, after the Trump Administration granted Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s request to authorize the use of National Guard members for Rhode Island under Title 32, United States Code, section 502(f), to perform humanitarian missions across the state during the COVID-19 crisis, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, said the 30 day designation means the federal government will cover many costs for the National Guard’s COVID-19 response in Rhode Island.  But Reed says that a longer authorization is needed to ensure National Guard members receive full benefits.

Reed, who served as a bipartisan negotiator of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, helped include $1.4 billion in federal funding for National Guard personnel, an amount that would enable the U.S. Department of Defense to sustain 20,000 National Guard personnel for six months. 

“While overdue, this authorization is a good step toward providing a financial lift for the state.  I commend Governor Raimondo for her leadership throughout this crisis.  And I appreciate Secretary Esper ensuring Rhode Island was included in this order.  However, I will be following up to press for an authorization beyond 30 days,” said Senator Reed.  “I am grateful to our dedicated citizen soldiers who serve in the Rhode Island National Guard and I will continue working to ensure they have the resources, pay, and benefits they need to fulfill their missions and protect our communities.  I will do everything I can to ensure Governor Raimondo has the federal support, tools, and manpower to combat COVID-19.”

On March 19, Senator Reed, called for the Trump Administration to transition the state’s National Guard to federally funded, state-controlled status under Title 32, United States Code.  This would ensure Governor Raimondo remained in operational control while the federal government covered all the costs, pay, and benefits for members of the Rhode Island National Guard.

Governor Raimondo is the Commander-in-Chief of the Rhode Island National Guard, which is led by the Adjutant General of the Guard, Major General Christopher P. Callahan.  To date, over 850 members of the Rhode Island National Guard have been deployed in the state and are supporting a range of operations that include: command and control, medical assistance and staffing testing sites, transportation, logistics, and interagency coordination and planning. 

In addition to Rhode Island, several other states were approved today, including: Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  They join over a dozen other states and U.S. territories that were previously approved under Title 32 authority, including: California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and Washington.

Under this Title 32 authority, governors continue to command their National Guard forces, while being federally funded under Title 32, enabling these states to use the additional resources to meet the missions necessary in the COVID-19 response. 

To date, a total of about 18,500 Air and Army National Guard members around the country are supporting COVID-19 response at the direction of their governors.

Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted the state a major disaster declaration for its COVID-19 response.  The declaration, which opens up additional forms of FEMA assistance, was also a prerequisite for securing the Title 32 approval.