Politics

Congressional Delegation Supports Governor’s Request for Increased Arkansas National Guard Authority and Funding

Delegation Members Agree COVID-19 Pandemic Warrants Further Guard Assistance and Support

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman— urged President Trump to approve Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for additional funding and resources for the Arkansas National Guard in order to support the ongoing response to COVID-19 in the Natural State.  

“While the Arkansas National Guard has been able to answer all Requests for Assistance to date, further funding will be necessary to support continued widespread taskings that are expected as patient numbers begin to exceed hospital space,” members wrote in the letter.

Below is the full text of the letter:

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the State of Arkansas, we are writing to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for authority and additional funding under 502(f)(2)(A) of Title 32, U.S.C., for Arkansas National Guard resources to support the response to COVID-19 in Arkansas.

As Governor Hutchinson noted at the time of his request, the state of Arkansas had 738 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and is experiencing community spread in multiple areas, including Little Rock. Unfortunately, we expect those numbers to increase as the disease continues to spread, and the Arkansas National Guard is a critical component of the fight.

The Governor is requesting the following mission assignments for the Arkansas National Guard:

  • Emergency Medical Care:  Arkansas National Guard qualified military medics to support COVID-19, drive-thru testing.
  • Emergency Medical Care: Arkansas National Guard medical personnel to provide technical assistance to the Arkansas Department of Health phone center to advise Arkansans on COVID-19;
  • Emergency Medical Care: Arkansas National Guard personnel to assist the Arkansas Department of Health with an immediate re-write of quarantine, isolation, and expanded medical facility build out.
  • Emergency Medical Care/Management Control: Arkansas National Guard personnel with Engineering Degrees to assist the United States Army Corps of Engineers in conducting assessments for sites selected as quarantine, isolation, and expanded medical facility build out.
  • Management, Control: Arkansas National Guard personnel to assist the Arkansas Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center to provide logistical support of tracking and delivering needed Personal Protective Equipment. 
  • Management Control: Arkansas National Guard personnel working in the Arkansas National Guard Joint Operations Center to track Arkansas National Guard missions, personnel, equipment, and providing predictive analysis to the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management and Arkansas Department of Health. 

As noted by Governor Hutchinson, Arkansas is a balanced budget state and faces a $353 million budget shortfall between now and June 30, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. While the Arkansas National Guard has been able to answer all Requests for Assistance to date, further funding will be necessary to support continued widespread taskings that are expected as patient numbers begin to exceed hospital space.

Without this additional assistance and authority, it will be difficult for Arkansas to bare all of the responsibilities it will be facing in the coming months and focus the proper amount of time, energy and financial support necessary to get life back to normal.

The entire Arkansas delegation is eager to assist in any way possible to ensure expedited evaluation of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions. We thank you for the support you have already offered, and respectfully ask for your continued attention and assistance in providing the resources necessary to ensure the safety of Arkansans.

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