National Guard Preparing Budget Measures to Cover Jan. 6 Response
National Guard leaders are preparing to furlough civilians and cancel training events and drills slated for August and September to cover costs incurred by responding to the Jan. 6 siege on Capitol Hill.
The guard’s mission formally ended in May, TWN previously reported, five months after being deployed to the U.S. Capitol to help fend off rioters who stormed the building in a bid to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau told reporters in a June press briefing that if the guard is not reimbursed for the security operation, it would have “a very significant impact on National Guard readiness.”
“If you look at the Operation Capital Response, and the number of troops we had in the duration, it cost about $521 million,” Hokanson said. “And what we were able to do is use our funding for operations and maintenance as well as some of our pay accounts to basically front-load that money so that we could pay our soldiers and airmen while they were here in the nation’s capital.”
Hokanson continued, “However, that funding is very significant — that’s a significant amount to any organization, especially the National Guard. And so, for us to be able to meet our training and operations, and maintenance requirements for the rest of the year, we will need to be reimbursed for that funding.”
Over 2,000 National Guard troops were deployed to the Capitol from 12 states. Although legislation that would fund the guard’s reimbursement has been introduced in both chambers of Congress, it remains doubtful that the plans will make it to a vote prior to the August recess.
Earlier this month, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced a bill that would issue $3.7 billion in funds for Capitol security that would also finance the National Guard’s reimbursement. Additionally, Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Steve Womack, R-Ark., introduced a standalone bill in the House that would make emergency appropriations to the National Guard.
“Whenever America calls, our National Guard members are ‘Always Ready, Always There,’” Womack said in a written statement. “Over the last year, these citizen soldiers have dutifully carried out every mission asked of them. This bill is a simple solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist. Instead of partisan bickering and bloated spending packages that do not meet the definition of ‘emergency,’ it’s time for Congress to do its most basic duty and provide our men and women in uniform with the funding they are owed.”
The Department of Defense offered its own proposed solution to the reimbursement issue: it could cover the over half-billion price tag by delaying certain “lower-priority” and “non-urgent” repair projects in Army, Navy and Air Force facilities until later this year, according to CQ Roll Call. Womack bristled at this suggestion, calling it “the epitome of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” during a July 13 markup of the Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Appropriations bill before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on which he serves.
Without the reimbursement, the guard’s budget shortfall would affect 54 states and territories, plus Washington, D.C., according to the Federal News Network. Units nationwide and in U.S. territories could be forced to deny some guard members the ability to obtain the necessary service time to receive credit for a full year of duty.
“We did not budget for an insurrection, and without action the Capitol Police will go without payment for the hours of overtime they have incurred, without proper equipment, and without sufficient mental health services to deal with the continued trauma from that day,” Leahy said in a written statement. “The National Guard, who poured into the Capitol from every state, now may need to cut training that they need to prepare for overseas deployments or response at home. I have been ready, and remain ready, to begin serious negotiations on a security supplemental. If we do not act it will be a security crisis of our own making.”