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Rep Chris Smith (R-Hamilton)

N.J. congressional delegation asks Trump to extend National Guard deployment

By David Wildstein, May 21 2020 9:16 am

Update: New Jersey’s two Republican congressmen, Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) and Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), also signed on to the letter.  This story was updated at 10:41 AM to reflect the change.

To help New Jersey help with the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the New Jersey congressional delegation want President Donald Trump to extend the deployment of the New Jersey National Guard beyond the June 24 deadline.

Earlier this week, Gov. Phil Murphy asked the Trump administration to extend more than 1,000 Guardsmen and women in New Jersey.

The delegation letter was organized by Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton),  one of three New Jersey House members on the Armed Service Committee.

“Since the pandemic began, more than a thousand of these professionals have put their lives on the line in our state, working every day to help New Jerseyans fight back against this virus,” the delegation wrote in a letter to Trump, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor.  “New Jersey still needs their help.”

The New Jersey senators and House members also expressed concern that “thousands of Guard members may not receive their hard-earned retirement or education benefits if their deployments fall even one day short of the 90-day service requirement.”

“In recognition of their service during these difficult times, we urge you to take steps to ensure that a bureaucratic loophole does not prevent our Guard members from receiving their early retirement credit and education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill,” the group said.

In addition to Kim, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, Reps. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-Paterson), Albio Sires (D-West New York), Donald Norcross (D-Camden), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff),  Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis),  Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair).

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