National Guard training to continue in August and September after congressional action | State and regional

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois National Guard abandoned plans to cancel weekend drills and training drills in August and September, which would have resulted in time off and lost wages for thousands of Guard soldiers and airmen.

The Illinois guard was able to avoid cuts after Congress passed a last-minute fundraising bill on Thursday and President Joe Biden enacted it to reimburse the guard for more than $ 521 million in fees security in Washington, DC, after January 6. riot at the United States Capitol.

“For us, it was just in time,” said Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, spokesman for the Illinois National Guard, on Monday. “We are moving forward with our exercises as planned.”

the The State Journal-Register reported two weeks ago that approximately 13,000 part-time Illinois National Guard soldiers and airmen, and more than 1,000 full-time civilian employees of the Guard, could lose two months’ wages if Congress does not act by August 1. Congress finally took action on July 29.

The Illinois Guard’s share of the National Guard’s total reimbursement was $ 31 million.

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More than 25,000 Guardsmen from across the country have been dispatched to the United States Capitol; about 800 of them were from Illinois. The National Guard covered the pay of the 25,000 troops and related costs from internal funds, hoping to be reimbursed.

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Illinois Adjutant General Richard Neely, commander of the Illinois Army and Air National Guard, said in July that the funding situation was “very shattering.”

He said the cancellation of Guard training sessions at more than 50 Illinois armories and Air Guard sites at the 183rd Wing in Springfield, the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria and the Scott Air Force Base in August and September would leave Guard troops less prepared for future missions and create financial hardship for part-time soldiers who depend on their wages for household bills.

The unprecedented shortfall amounted to about 15% of the Illinois Guard’s budget for pay and operational support. About 98% of the Guard’s funding comes from the federal government.

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“We don’t have a lot of very wealthy people joining the Guard,” Leighton said. “Especially in the lower ranks, these are people who are just starting out in life and in their careers. A lot of them depend on that monthly check for their child care.”

The congressional reimbursement had been delayed by a debate in Washington on how to pay for additional security on the U.S. Capitol in the future after the January 6 riot by supporters of former President Donald Trump, a Republican.

Governor JB Pritzker, a Democrat, called on Congress to repay the debt to the Guard.

“Even though the events of January 6 were still unfolding, heroes across the country fearlessly mobilized to defend their country, and every day that our debts to them go unpaid is an insult to their service,” said the governor in a press release. January 20.

Biparty vote on last week’s $ 2.1 billion emergency appropriations bill – for reimbursement for the Guard, Capitol Police, COVID-19 spending on Capitol Hill and for Afghans who assisted US and coalition forces in Afghanistan – was 416-11 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate.

Members of Congress voting in favor included U.S. Representatives Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Darin LaHood, R-Peoria.

“This is a great example of what can happen when Republicans and Democrats come together to support our National Guard members and Capitol Police officers,” Davis said.

He said he co-sponsored legislation that would have reimbursed the Guard before compromise legislation was drawn up.

US Senator Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, released a statement after the fundraising bill was passed: “In the complicated political world we live in, Republicans in the Senate have actually debated for weeks on end. ‘The expenses of the Capitol police and the National Guards had to be paid. who protected us on January 6 and after. It’s hard to explain the depths we’ve reached when it comes to common sense and decency. “


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