President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he approved requests to federally fund the National Guard to assist Washington, California and New York, three of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
Those three states have been approved for major disaster declarations as of Sunday night. That status allows the federal government to provide supplies more seamlessly, he said.
In a conference call with reporters Sunday night, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, explained that the activated National Guard troops will remain under state active duty and not be federalized.
States like New York and California had already activated their state branches of the National Guard.
Lengyel said the guardsmen will be under Title 32 authority, meaning they will be federally funded but state directed and the governors will retain operational control. Lengyel explained that the governors overwhelmingly asked the president to give them the authority to use the National Guard in a state status — the same category of use for National Guard on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump also said Sunday large quantities of masks, respirators, gowns, face shields and other items are due to arrive in the three states within days. He added that he has ordered the government to set up large federal medical stations in each of the states.
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Of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Trump said, "The relationship has really been amazing," adding that he believes the federal government should serve as "sort of a backup for the states."
"The ones that don't do as well need more help," he said, adding, "They are hit very hard."
He also pledged that victory over the coronavirus will happen "much sooner" than first expected.
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The announcement Sunday evening came as governors clamored for more assistance from the federal government in combating COVID-19, which is expanding its reach across the U.S. and the world. Much of the U.S. is under some level of economic shutdown.
The president said that his administration would also "take a look at" releasing nonviolent elderly offenders from federal prison and that he is in favor of Congress' gaining the ability to vote remotely.
On the coronavirus stimulus package before Congress, Trump said he doesn't want corporations that receive "bailout" money to be allowed to engage in stock buybacks.
"I don't want to give a bailout to a company" that then goes and does stock buybacks, Trump said. "I may be Republican, but I don't like that."
He added that Democrats "are with me," so he "can't imagine that's too tough" to hammer out.
After a procedural vote on the legislation failed Sunday as Democrats said they couldn't support the bill, Trump said he would be surprised if a deal can't get done soon.
Trump also refused to commit to not taking taxpayer money in the package that would boost his own private hotels and resorts, which he hasn't divested from as president. Trump lamented not having gotten enough credit for forgoing his annual presidential salary of more than $400,000.
Trump said he doesn't plan to call former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for advice or assistance because he has faith in the team around him and because he doesn't think he'd learn anything from his predecessors.
"I guess you could say there's a natural inclination not to call," he said, adding that if such a call would save a life, he'd do it "in a second."