WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help states hit hardest by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, enhance response efforts, and relieve burdens on stage budgets, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, is urging the Trump Administration to place the state’s National Guard on federally funded, state-controlled status under Title 32, Untied States Code.

All fifty states and every U.S. territory has a National Guard that serves a dual state and federal mission.  Governors serve as commander-in-chief of their state’s National Guard and can call up or “activate” the National Guard to respond to state emergencies.  State’s national guards are comprised of units which can include military, medical, aviation, and engineering capabilities, as well as others. 

Senator Reed does not support federalizing the National Guard at this point and bringing them under federal control.  Senator Reed agrees with U.S. Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, who opposes federalizing the National Guard at this juncture.

Reed stated: “We must do everything we can to protect families, workers, and businesses against the spread of COVID-19.  Governors are leading the fight, but they need more federal support, and the federal government should step up and pay the National Guard out of federal coffers.  The Department of Defense is authorized to support the National Guard with federal funding while retaining the Governors’ authority to direct their use.  General Lengyel has opposed federalizing the Guard, and he’s right to do so.  The Trump Administration should act expeditiously and approve any request from a Governor to place that State’s National Guard under the appropriate title 32 status to provide them much needed federal funding as they continue to fight the spread of this virus.”

To date, Governors in 23 states have authorized the deployment of over 2,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen to assist in coronavirus response efforts.  These troops are performing a variety of missions, from response planners, to logistics and transportation, to support for medical-testing facilities and state emergency operations centers, to special help with disinfecting and cleaning missions.

Today, General Lengyel stated that the number of National Guard personnel deployed by states could quickly reach into the “tens of thousands” as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country.