Lawmakers press Trump to waive COVID-19 cost-sharing requirements

By Tony Bertuca / August 14, 2020 at 1:42 PM

Dozens of House Democrats have sent President Trump a letter urging him to waive National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency cost-sharing requirements for all states and territories responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawmakers, led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), note that Trump initially created exemptions to cover 100% of the National Guard costs for Texas and Florida through the end of the year, and then subsequently granted Arizona, California and Connecticut the same exemption through Sept. 30.

All other states and territories, however, are required to pay 25% of the costs, according to the White House. The lawmakers say Trump has provided no explanation for his approach to cost-sharing.

"An estimated 25,000 National Guard troops are currently deployed throughout the country selflessly providing crucial assistance to state and local government COVID-19 responses," the lawmakers wrote. "These states and territories, which are already under immense financial strain due to COVID-19, will have difficultly providing all the needed services to their communities if they are burdened with the additional costs of the National Guard's crucial assistance."

Though the lawmakers "applaud" the National Guard and FEMA and their work to help state and local communities, "we believe SLTT governments have endured additional and unnecessary hardship because of these cost-sharing requirements and the lack of a more robust federal response."

Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, criticized Trump for the cost-sharing policy.

"At a time when the states are suffering dramatic revenue losses as a result of Trump's catastrophic COVID-19 response, this is no time to place new fiscal burdens onto the states by reducing federal funding for the National Guard," Biden said.

The National Governors Association has also demanded the administration provide 100% federal support for all states through the end of the year.