Amid Trump Threats to Withhold Funding, Duckworth Calls on DoD & DHS to Ensure National Guard Forces Receive Pay, Benefits for Deployments to U.S. Border
WASHINGTON D.C.-(Effingham Radio)- Following threats from Donald Trump to withhold federal funding from California’s National Guard and with National Guard deployments to the U.S.-Mexico border well underway, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today called on Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Jim Mattis and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to ensure National Guard forces are taken care of while activated and during post-mobilization and receive the benefits their service entitles them to.
In her letter, Duckworth also raised concerns about whether National Guard forces have been given clear guidance for their deployments and what impact these deployments could have on states’ emergency readiness.
“Setting aside my serious reservations about the merits of this mission and the lack of evidence indicating a real operational need for this surge in personnel, my principle concern now is making sure that the Guardsmen are appropriately taken care of while activated and during post-mobilization; that they have full access to the benefits their service entitles them to; that they are appropriately equipped; given clear guidance for the mission they are expected to carry out and the rules for use of force they are expected to follow; and that States are fully funded to support the full costs of the deployment,” wrote Duckworth.
“Troublingly, the President’s recent threat to withhold federal funding from California’s National Guard influences the ability of the National Guard to conduct its mission and impacts the lives and goals of the Guardsmen called to conduct important counter-gang and drug operations. By threatening not to fully fund the Guard, the government is effectively threatening not to look after the troops, their pay and benefits and their equipping needs – such a proposal to withhold federal dollars is unconscionable.”
Duckworth has long been a staunch advocate for the National Guard and the Reserve, fighting to ensure Guardsmen and Reservists have equal access to benefits that their active duty counterparts have, like educational and healthcare benefits, and advocating for increased funding for their equipment and readiness needs.
In March, she voted in favor of bipartisan legislation to fund the U.S. government that increased national defense funding, and improved military readiness.
Duckworth has also underscored the critical need for resources to help train service members and ensure military equipment is maintained and upgraded in the wake of a number of deadly military aviation accidents.
A full copy of the letter is available here.