March 27, 2020

Mass. Lawmakers Urge Trump to Approve Resources & Benefits for Activated National Guard Personnel

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives Richard E. Neal, (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) wrote to President Trump urging him to quickly approve the request made by Governor Charlie Baker to the Department of Defense (DoD) for  authority and funding under Title 32 of the U.S. Code to assist the Commonwealth in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We urge your prompt approval of Governor Baker's request so he may fully task the Massachusetts National Guard as he finds necessary to support the state's COVID-19 response efforts," the lawmakers wrote in their letter. "Converting National Guard personnel to Title 32 status would allow individual governors the ability to retain command and control of Guard personnel in their state and it would also allow these professionals access to TRICARE medical coverage and Military Treatment Facilities, GI Bill accrual, retirement points, and death gratuity."

Last week, Governor Baker determined the need to increase the Massachusetts National Guard force to full time status and intends to use the Massachusetts National Guard to fulfill immediate COVID-19 response requirements in cities and towns across the Commonwealth, including support to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

All 54 states and territories have declared emergencies in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with approximately 10,700 National Guard personnel supporting their respective governors at the time the letter was sent-all of whom are on State Active Duty orders. State Active Duty is inappropriate for a long-term response to a national emergency because these orders are fully funded by the state and do not allow full access to Federal benefits.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which passed the Senate this week, included $1.4 billion in funding for National Guard personnel, an amount that would enable the DoD to sustain 20,000 National Guard personnel for six months.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump Administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this emergency. She recently unveiled detailed plans to increase diagnostic testing nationwide, and sounded the alarm alongside Senator Markey over the Trump Administration's failure to deliver federal support for testing and care in Massachusetts. Earlier this month, she put out a plan for getting relief directly to workers, families, and small businesses, and has fought to prioritize federal aid for keeping workers on payroll and helping hospitals, states and localities respond to the crisis -- before bailing out giant corporations.