CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday came out against President Donald Trump’s decision to reduce the federal government’s support of National Guard units across the country.
Trump on Monday signed an extension regarding National Guard units’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic, which included a funding cut to deployments except in Texas and Florida. The federal government will cover 75% of coronavirus-related expenditures through the rest of the year.
Justice said during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing the country needs to support coronavirus response efforts, including the work of National Guard units.
“Without any question, we should support our National Guard’s effort because of what they have done for each and every one of us every blooming day,” he said.
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, who is also the state’s adjutant general, emphasized the funding reduction would be a burden for the National Guard.
“We’re down about right now to a steady state of 400 National Guardsmen,” he said. “To maintain 400 guardsmen for the 132 days through the rest of the calendar year, if West Virginia had to pay a 25% share, it would cost us $7.26 million.”
Hoyer said the National Guard is determining if the funding is available.
Justice had a call scheduled for Wednesday afternoon with Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Justice said during the coronavirus briefing he would “emphatically express” his concerns during the conversation.
“If we got to find the money in West Virginia, we’ll find the money,” he said. “But for crying out loud, our nation needs to stand steadfast with our Guard because of the job that they do every day.”