Funding Guard Response to Storm Unsettled

NGAUS Washington Report

(Nov. 27, 2012) The issue of paying for the response of the National Guard to the storm dubbed Sandy has not yet been resolved. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has not yet authorized the use of Title 32 federal funds to pay for the far-reaching Guard mission to one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history.

As of now, states that received help from Guardsmen of neighboring states will have to reimburse the sending states.

This will burden the limited state budgets, says Pete Duffy, the NGAUS acting legislative director.

“Benefitted states will have to reimburse the sending states for the aid provided on state active duty orders, an expensive and administrative-intensive task,” Duffy says.

He pointed out that states are struggling with their budgets now, including New York and New Jersey, which suffered the most damage from the storm in late October and will owe the most money for National Guard assistance.

Those two states need at least $71 billion just to repair damage and recover loss, according to news reports. They will ask Congress for money to cover those expenses, which do not include the cost of paying for Guard assistance.

“Once again, the Defense Department and the executive branch need to re-examine their priorities in defending the country,” Duffy says. “Think about roads, bridges and schools being built in Afghanistan and a $1 billion embassy in Iraq, while vital parts of the commercial center of our country are in tatters.”

NGAUS recommends the federal government quickly and completely make money available to pay for the efforts of the Guardsmen who came to the aid of their countrymen at a time of need, Duffy says.