CARSON CITY — President Donald Trump rejected Nevada’s request for the federal government to fully fund the cost of deploying the National Guard to help the state’s coronavirus response, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday.
From their deployment as part of the COVID-19 response in April until late August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been reimbursing states for 100 percent of the cost of the guardsmen and women.
The White House announced last month that Nevada, along with several other states, would begin picking up 25 percent of the cost starting Aug. 21 while the federal government paid for the remaining 75 percent through the Guard’s deployment through the end of December. Five states — Florida, Texas, Arizona, Connecticut, and California — are the only ones that have been approved for full federal funding for the Guard costs.
Sisolak made a public plea in last month for the federal government to continue fully reimbursing Nevada’s National Guard deployment costs, and made several follow up requests to the White House, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Sisolak’s office said that the state was told Wednesday night that Trump would not approve the request.
In a statement, Sisolak decried the Trump administration’s decision to fully fund only a handful of states for deployment costs going forward.
“There is no rational justification for providing some states full federal funding for the Guard and denying a state like Nevada, which is still facing an increased transmission risk in our largest counties and devastating economic impacts as a result of this pandemic,” Sisolak said in a statement.
“The Nevada National Guard has led our State in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be critical to the success of our recovery efforts going forward. I am disappointed in the President’s decision and urge him to reconsider based on Nevada’s current situation. As Governor, I will continue to advocate to bring in more federal funds to help Nevada’s ongoing response efforts,” Sisolak added.
In response, Assistant White House press secretary Karoline Leavitt said Trump has done more to fund the National Guard in emergencies than his predecessors.
“President Trump is the first president in United States history to proactively grant 100 percent cost share for the National Guard under Title 32 status and did so for several months for every state that requested it,” Leavitt said in a statement released to the Review-Journal. “The only other time that 100 percent cost share was extended under Title 32 status was for a much shorter period when Congress dictated it after Hurricane Katrina.”
Nevada has utilized the Guard since April in establish sample collection sites and collection teams, including several that have traveled to Native American communities across the state, as well as for contact tracing efforts, logistical support and food distribution.
The governor’s office said that as a result of the decision, the state will use federal coronavirus relief funds to cover the costs.