Illinois congressional delegation asks Defense Department to help with National Guard costs

The coronavirus crisis sparked a rare bipartisan push from the delegation.

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The Illinois National Guard operates a COVID-19 drive-thru test site for medical personnel and first responders on March 24, 2020.

The Illinois National Guard operates a COVID-19 drive-thru test site for medical personnel and first responders at 6959 Forest Preserve Drive on Tuesday morning, March 24, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

The Illinois congressional delegation asked the Defense Department on Tuesday to pick up more of the costs of calling out the Illinois National Guard as the coronavirus pandemic explodes.

The Trump administration “recently authorized” the additional help with costs “for California, New York, and Washington, but more states need help,” the Illinois delegation said in a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The letter was led by Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., in a rare bipartisan effort. The five GOP House members joined the 13 DemocratsIllinois sends to the House plus the two senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

Bustos noted in a statement that Gov. J.B. Pritzker “has requested this additional support from the federal government, as members of the National Guard in the State of Illinois mobilize to assist with testing, distribute supplies and deliver food. If authorized, this action would empower Governor Pritzker to further utilize the unique capabilities offered by the National Guard and alleviate any financial consequences placed on the State during this critical time.”

In a March 21 tweet, the Illinois National Guard said those on duty “are medical and logistics planners, geospacial planners, and public affairs personnel. This brings our total number of activated National Guard members to about 80.”

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