Trump Cuts Funding for Louisiana National Guard COVID Relief, Edwards Seeks Reconsideration

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

Governor John Bel Edwards announced on Friday, August 7 that he would be petitioning President Trump to fully fund the deployment of the Louisiana National Guard through December 31, 2020. Without it, Louisiana could be on the hook for $10 million. 

Title 32, Section 502(f) of the United States Code provides that the National Guard may be directed to other duties. Currently, the 1,100 Louisiana National Guard members are active in assisting the state’s Coronavirus relief efforts. And according to Governor Edwards, they are providing essential food services across the state.

As it stands now, President Trump has only approved a 75 percent funding for the continued deployment of the Louisiana National Guard. But Florida and Texas – which have lower rates of COVID than Louisiana – have been approved for full funding. 

In fact, Louisiana is at a far greater need for National Guard assistance than the other two states, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. “Cumulative COVID-19 case incidence and the cumulative COVID-19 death rate are higher in Louisiana than Florida and Texas,” Governor Edwards said. “Louisiana’s death rate due to COVID-19 [is] higher than Florida and Texas combined.”

And, of course, Louisiana has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 in the nation. 

COVID incidences and deaths for Louisiana, Florida, and Texas. Courtesy of Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health.

Earlier this year, President Trump expressed doubt that the federal government should assist states run by Democratic governors. Both Texas and Florida are led by Republicans, while Governor Edwards is a conservative Democrat. 

National Guard assistance has grown more vital, as the transition to Phase 2 has restricted the state’s ability to access volunteers for food banks. 

Additionally, two areas in Louisiana were designated as “hot spots” by the Department of Health and Human Services. In response, the state plans to administer an additional 120,000 tests to the areas. According to the governor, the National Guard is instrumental in establishing community-based testing centers in targeted areas.

“The State of Louisiana remains at a critical phase of its efforts against the virus, and the support of the National Guard remains essential,” Governor Edwards wrote to President Trump.

You can read the letter that Governor Edwards sent to President Trump here.

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