Members of the National Guard prepare to distribute weapons outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Security has been increased throughout Washington following the breach of the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, and leading up to the Presidential Inauguration. | Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
Updated, 4:06 p.m., 7/30/21 with comments from Tlaib’s office
WASHINGTON — Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly passed $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for providing 26,000 troops to protect the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot — an unexpected expense that was poised to result in training cutbacks for Guard units across the country.
The National Guard Bureau used its budget to pay for the mission at the U.S. Capitol, covering the costs of state National Guards deploying support to Washington, D.C., for riot response and President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The Capitol was attacked by supporters of former President Donald Trump on the day Congress met to certify the winner of the 2020 election.
Most troops returned home after several weeks, but some remained on Capitol Hill through May as concerns about security remained.
While those unexpected costs dragged on, Congress did not approve more money to backfill the National Guard’s operational budget, leaving a shortfall for the final months of the budget year.
Having these funds in place will allow us to continue our ongoing training and mission requirements throughout Michigan.
– U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers
As a result, money that state Guard units needed in August and September to pay for drill weekends, annual training, and other operations and maintenance was no longer available.
Told that those federal dollars would not be flowing, state units have been scrambling to prevent guard members from losing pay.
“Without reimbursement funding, there is significant impact on National Guard readiness if we’re not able to resolve this in a timely manner,” Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, said in a statement ahead of Thursday’s vote.
The emergency funding was ultimately included in a $2.1 billion supplemental security bill, which also included additional money for the Capitol Police and for a special visa program for Afghan refugees who had aided the U.S. mission there.
“The Michigan National Guard (MING) is always ready and willing to support our state and nation when called on,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “It was critical that funding be allocated to cover the costs associated with the U.S. Capitol security missions and we appreciate the bipartisan effort to get this accomplished. Having these funds in place will allow us to continue our ongoing training and mission requirements throughout Michigan.”
“From helping distribute COVID-19 vaccines in our communities to protecting the U.S. Capitol after the January 6th attack, the men and women of Michigan’s National Guard have sacrificed so much for our state and country, not only over the last year but year in and year out,” said Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m pleased that the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to ensure the National Guard has the funding it needed, and I’ll continue working to ensure it has the resources to continue operations safely and effectively.”
Shortly after the Senate vote, the U.S. House of Representatives also gave its approval on a 416-11 vote. U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) was the lone member of Michigan’s delegation to vote no, joining some Republicans and other members of the progressive “Squad,” U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
A Tlaib spokesperson declined to comment specifically on why she voted against the bill, referring the Advance to her statement on H.R. 4502, a Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bill that she “celebrated” for including funding for the cities of Wayne and Inkster and Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan.
“Our country needs to invest in people and not broken structures that continue to target communities of color with over-policing and incarceration. I voted against several FY2022 appropriations bills, including the supplemental, that did not prioritize my residents’ needs and failed to address the concerns that many of us have about policing at the Capitol and at home, escalating military spending, and support for repressive regimes,” Tlaib said.
However, most Democrats cheered the bill’s passage.
“By passing this bill, we have honored the service of the Capitol Police and the National Guard with the funding they need,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. “And we have sent a clear message that we respect the hard work they do.”
The measure now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.
A White House statement said the Biden administration “strongly supports” the National Guard funding in the measure, saying it “would enable the National Guard to continue its military training activities for the remainder” of the fiscal year.
The National Governors Association said as a result of Thursday’s votes, states will no longer be faced with tough financial decisions on canceling training sessions or deferring equipment maintenance.
But the group said the late timing did mean that some smaller training events had already been canceled.
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