Trump pledges to keep Michigan National Guard aid into August

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

President Donald Trump is pledging to grant the request of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to extend the time that the Michigan National Guard aids the state in the battle against COVID-19.

The Democratic governor sent a letter Thursday to the Republican president, asking him to authorize and extend the mobilization of the state's National Guard through July 31. The Title 32 status, which provides for federal pay and benefits, is currently in place through June 24. 

In a mid-day Thursday tweet, Trump indicated he would go further than what Whitmer requested.

“The men and women of the National Guard have been doing a great job fighting the CoronaVirus," the president tweeted at 12:20 p.m. "This week, I will extend their Title 32 orders through mid-August, so they can continue to help States succeed in their response and recovery efforts.”

A member of the Michigan National Guard moves bed frames from Hall B to Hall C where a temporary hospital is to accommodate patients with coronavirus at the TCF Center.

The Michigan National Guard has aided the state in performing testing, distributing personal protective equipment, food and medical supplies and disinfecting public spaces.

"With this assistance, our state has made great strides in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have much more work to respond to and recover from this crisis," Whitmer wrote. "To sustain the economic reopening of the State of Michigan and to mitigate the risk associated with potential COVID-19 recurrence, we need to extend the current authorities through July."

Whitmer said she requested an extension "so we can safely reopen our economy while putting the health and well-being of all Michiganders first.” 

She also notes in her letter to Trump that additional extensions may be required into the summer. 

Beyond extending the guard's presence, Whitmer is making the request to ensure guard members receive federal retirement and education benefits made available under the GI Bill. If Title 32 authority expires on June 24, some guard members will not be eligible to receive these benefits, the state said Thursday. 

“I want to ensure the brave men and women serving in the National Guard receive the benefits they’re entitled to and have earned," Whitmer said.