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White House rejects Nevada’s request for full federal funding of National Guard COVID-19 response; Sisolak says ‘no rational justification’

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
CoronavirusState Government

Nevada’s request to have the federal government fully fund state National Guard COVID-19 response efforts through the rest of the year has been rejected, a move that Gov. Steve Sisolak panned as potentially putting “more American lives at risk.”

Sisolak’s office announced late Thursday that its request to the White House for full federal funding for the Nevada National Guard through the rest of the calendar year had been rejected, even as five other states — Texas, Florida, California, Arizona and Connecticut — have been granted full federal funding for National Guard activities. 

All other states are required to put up 25 percent of the deployment costs with the federal government covering 75 percent. Nevada’s 25 percent share of the deployment costs will be covered through the state’s share of Coronavirus Relief Funds, allocated to the state through the federal CARES Act.

In a statement, Sisolak said he was “disappointed” by the decision and would urge President Donald Trump to “reconsider based on Nevada’s current situation.”

“There is no rational justification for providing some states full federal funding for the Guard and denying a state like Nevada, which is still facing an increased transmission risk in our largest counties and devastating economic impacts as a result of this pandemic,” Sisolak said in a statement.

National Guard deployments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic began in March and early April for most states; Nevada initially deployed members of the Guard in early April, with a high-water mark of 1,151 Guardsmen deployed in mid-April — the largest state activation in history.

Members of the Guard helped establish four ongoing community-based sample collection sites and helped staff 24 mobile collection sites through rural parts of the state. They also maintain the state’s strategic stockpile of Personal Protective Equipment and warehouses around the state.

The federal government initially covered the cost of deploying National Guard members through August, but changed course and began requiring states to start picking up 25 percent of the deployment costs going forward through the rest of the calendar year.

But that initial decision spared Texas and Florida, two key swing states that voted for Trump in the 2016 election — prompting criticism from Democrats that the decision may have been politically motivated.

Though the Trump administration has expanded that full federal funding coverage to three additional states, several states and the National Governors Association have pushed for the administration to fully cover deployment costs.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also announced on Thursday that her state had their request for full federal funding of National Guard activities was denied.

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