FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — A spokesperson with the Kentucky National Guard said the branch is preparing to slow down operations in case Congress fails to come up with a solution to reimburse the cost of securing the U.S. Capitol after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The National Guard Bureau spent $521 million during months-long deployments of more than 26,000 troops in Washington from January to May.
Senate spending leaders said on Tuesday they reached a deal on a $2.1 billion bipartisan supplemental security spending bill that would in part reimburse the National Guard and Capitol police for their presence.
Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Stephen Martin said the state’s branch is prepared to cancel activities if a bill cannot be successfully passed by Sunday.
“We are facing a budget crisis,” Martin said. “As of this week, we determined that unless that money drops, we will be canceling August and September drills for many of our guardsmen.”
Canceling events means many of Kentucky’s guardsmen will face paycheck cuts.
Veterans’ Club CEO Jeremy Harrell said he’s spent the week answering calls from worried servicemen.
“How’s that going to impact their lives because some of the young soldiers really rely heavily on that money and healthcare,” Harrell said. "We have to do a better job at making sure they don't have to worry about these things."
There are approximately 8,000 soldiers and airmen in the Kentucky National Guard, 850 of which were deployed to the Capitol between January and May, according to Martin.
Martin said if faced with the budget shortfall, the Kentucky National Guard has been advised to prioritize funding deployments.
Harrell said he is concerned with the consequences reducing training could have on troop readiness.
“I mean, it’s life or death and some of these operations and trainings are important. It’s what keeps you alive,” Harrell said. "My plea to Congress is let's just get this passed so the National Guard is ready to do their jobs."
“This will dramatically affect both our stateside response and our overseas response,” Martin said. “Some estimates are that it could take us anywhere from eight to 14 months to recover from this two-month gap.”
Martin added if any members of the Kentucky National are concerned with how this might impact them, they should directly reach out to their units.