A bipartisan group of Congressmen are asking the House and Senate leadership to pass an emergency spending bill to reimburse the National Guard for deploying troops to Washington D.C., in the wake of the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack.
According to The Hill, the group consisting of 70 Republicans and Democrats sent letters to the leadership of both bodies this week asking for an emergency appropriation for the estimated $521 million cost of the deployment.
If no action is taken, military leaders said it would have to cancel planned training activities scheduled for later in the year.
"Department of Defense (DOD) leadership has stated that without a commitment to reimburse the Guard by July 1, 2021, preparations will begin to cancel August and September annual training and individual duty training assemblies," Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said in a press release of the letter. "Without immediate action, the brave volunteers of our National Guard will suffer, and the National Guard Bureau estimates its readiness will decrease by 15-20%. We urge you to swiftly come to an agreement on emergency appropriations that includes full reimbursement for the National Guard."
Some 26,000 troops were deployed to the Capitol following the violent protest on Jan. 6, and around 5,000 stayed until last month when the deployment ended, The Hill report said.
The soldiers, according to the DOD, would not accrue enough time of service this year to get retirement credits if the training sessions end up being canceled.
"Approximately 2,000 training schools will be canceled, affecting their readiness, pay and career progression. Ground vehicle and rotary wing operations and maintenance will be halted. Facilities will degrade, including the delay of critical fire safety projects in Maryland, Minnesota and the Virgin Islands," the letter to leadership states. "Air National Guard flying operations will be negatively impacted as they begin recovery from the negative readiness effects of the pandemic. Without reimbursement this fiscal year, it will take years to recover our readiness."
During the deployment, troops had to withstand sleeping on the floor inside the Capitol, and in nearby parking garages, and later complaints in March of "inadequate" meals provided by private caterers.
The troops finally left the post at the end of May.
The House narrowly passed a bill at that time that would pay for the National Guard deployment as well as beef up Capitol Police, but it has yet to go to the Senate.
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