Representative Tim Ryan and Ohio Delegation Members Urge FEMA, OMB and DOD to Support Governor DeWine’s Request to Extend Federal Funding for Ohio National Guard’s COVID-19 Response Mission
Washington, DC – Representative Tim Ryan (D, OH-13), in a letter today with bipartisan members of the Ohio congressional delegation, urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor, Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, and Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to support Governor Mike DeWine’s request to restore and extend full federal funding for the Ohio National Guard’s COVID-19 response mission through March of 2021.
Representative Ryan joined in sending the letter with Senators Portman and Brown, as well as Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Mike Turner (R-OH), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), and Warren Davidson (R-OH).
“The Ohio National Guard has been instrumental in supporting the State of Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We, as a bipartisan, bicameral Ohio delegation, write to express our support for the request made by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to restore and extend full federal funding for up to 1,800 members of the Ohio National Guard through March 31, 2021,” the members wrote. “Ohio Guardsmen have significantly increased the response capacity in Ohio by maintaining testing sites, staging and distributing personal protective equipment, and assisting foodbanks in distributing more than 33 million pounds of food to Ohioans in need.”
“Like other frontline responders, Ohio’s foodbanks find themselves approaching the end of the current Ohio National Guard mission in the midst of surging COVID-19 cases,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “As much as it pains us to see growing need for help with emergency food, and to have to respond to that need with the added logistical challenges of operating in a pandemic environment, we have also been buoyed by each of the soldiers and airmen serving alongside us. They are more critical than ever to our ability to keep food moving safely and efficiently to record numbers of Ohioans. We are grateful for Governor DeWine and Adj. Gen. MG Harris for making this request and humbled that Senators Portman and Brown would once again lead a bipartisan, bicameral effort with Ohio’s House members to ensure that the Administration understands the urgency and gravity of the moment.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, approximately 2,000 members of the Ohio National Guard have been on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio by maintaining testing sites, responding to outbreaks, and staging and distributing PPE. Today, there are more than 500 National Guard members responding to the pandemic. The Ohio National Guard has played a critical role in helping to distribute more than 33 million pounds of food at foodbanks across Ohio. This support has been particularly important as foodbanks experience increased demand for food but have a limited number of volunteers due to the health crisis.
Governor DeWine has requested full federal funding be reinstated for the Ohio National Guard’s COVID-19 response through March 31, 2021. Since August, the federal government has covered 75 percent of the costs associated with Ohio’s National Guard response, which is authorized through December 31, 2020. The federal government previously authorized full federal funding from March 22nd through August 21st. Without action, the Ohio National Guardsmen will end their missions on December 17th to permit a 2-week quarantine period.
Find the full text of the letter below.
Dear Administrator Gaynor, Director Vought, and Acting Secretary Miller:
The Ohio National Guard has been instrumental in supporting the State of Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We, as a bipartisan, bicameral Ohio delegation, write to express our support for the request made by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to restore and extend full federal funding for up to 1,800 members of the Ohio National Guard through March 31, 2021.
On March 13, the President declared a nationwide emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, and, on March 22, authorized full federal reimbursement for states’ use of their National Guard under Title 32 for COVID-19 response activities, which was extended through August 21. The federal government is currently funding 75 percent of the Ohio National Guard’s Title 32 response activities through December 31, 2020.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented health and economic challenges in Ohio. Since April, approximately 2,000 men and women of the Ohio National Guard have answered the call to serve their communities and help keep their fellow citizens safe. Ohio Guardsmen have significantly increased the response capacity in Ohio by maintaining testing sites, staging and distributing personal protective equipment, and assisting foodbanks in distributing more than 33 million pounds of food to Ohioans in need.
In particular, National Guard support has been critical to Ohio’s testing operations for nursing homes. Nursing homes are required to conduct weekly testing for both staff and residents to help prevent an outbreak of the virus within a facility. When PCR tests are administered, the National Guard provides logistical and operational support, collecting the swabs for COVID-19 testing and returning the results.
We are encouraged by the recent, promising progress made in the development of vaccines against COVID-19, but the threat of the virus still remains. Transmission rates are already increasing in Ohio as we enter into the winter months, and the Ohio National Guard will continue to be an essential part of the State’s ongoing response to the health crisis.
We fully support Governor DeWine’s request and urge its immediate consideration. Thank you for your attention to this matter.