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National Guard Coronavirus Deployments to End Just One Day Before Benefits Kick In for Thousands

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Source: U.S. Army National Guard/Col. Steve Rowe

  • In a call obtained by Politico, a senior FEMA official said Army National Guard deployment would come to a “hard stop” on June 24.
  • This coincides with the expiration of a federal order deploying the Guard in response to the coronavirus, though President Donald Trump did extend that order once. 
  • Still, many veterans have expressed concern because Trump’s extension is set to expire one day short of when thousands of active duty Guard members would be able to qualify for retirement benefits, as well as educational benefits under the G.I. Bill.

Thousands to Fail to Qualify for G.I. Benefits

More than 40,000 Army National Guard members have been deployed across the United States to provide backup for states fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but now, a scheduled “hard stop” to their deployments could leave thousands unable to access crucial benefits.

Notably, that would include aspects such as early retirement benefits and education benefits granted under the post-9/11 G.I. Bill

To access those benefits, Guard members must log 90 days of active duty, but the current federal order expires on June 24, meaning thousands of Guard members would have only logged 89 days, one day short of the threshold. That’s because many of these troops were deployed in late March. 

According to a call obtained by Politico, there is reason to believe that the order may not be extended to give those troops the ability to access their benefits. In that call, a senior Federal Emergency Management Agency official says the Trump Administration will reportedly put a “hard stop” on deployments on June 24. 

This would mean that not only would states see an abrupt loss of crucial frontline workers, but the Trump administration would also likely face questions about withholding access to their benefits. According to Politico, in this call, that FEMA official admits as much, reportedly telling dozens of colleagues that this move would require a delicate messaging strategy. 

“We would greatly benefit from unified messaging regarding the conclusion of their services prior to hitting the 90-day mark and the retirement benefit implications associated with it,” the official said.

Currently, Guard members have been deployed across 44 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia to help with testing people for the coronavirus, as well as to trace the spread of infections. Part of their duties also includes decontaminating nursing homes and setting up field hospitals. 

In fact, their deployment has been extremely valuable to understaffed and underfunded state public health agencies trying to contain outbreaks. It’s also the largest domestic deployment since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

Why Can’t Troops Just Pick Up An Extra Day?

On the surface, picking up an extra day of work to obtain those qualifications doesn’t sound too daunting, but for these Guard members, without federal orders, that would be impossible. 

That’s because all 90 days of required active duty need to be from federal deployments.

For example, Guard members must serve twenty years before they can qualify for pension at age 60; however, for every 90 days they’ve served during a federal emergency, they can move up that retirement by three months. 

But the key phrase here is “during a federal emergency.” State deployments don’t count, and that’s even if states decide they need to keep troops around after June 24.

All of that then means that to see these benefits, Guard members would have to wait until their next federal deployment. Since federal emergencies obviously aren’t planned, it’s unknown how earlier or how late that could come. 

Will the Trump Administration Issue an Extension?

Another major question looming for many Guard members is if the Trump administration will issue an extension so they can see these benefits without having to wait indefinitely.

Multiple governors and lawmakers from other states have asked the White House to extend its federal order, arguing that pulling the National Guard out of states too soon could contribute to a possible second wave of infections. 

President Donald Trump’s original order was scheduled to expire on May 31.

In early April, federal lawmakers from states like New Hampshire, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Illinois all sought an extension through the fall. On April 29, Colorado’s entire congressional delegation joined the chorus by asking Trump for an extension through the rest of the year.

While Trump did issue an extension on May 8, it was actually only for 24 days. Very unusually here, that meant this deployment was scheduled to end in the middle of the week.

It seemed kind of weird to me,” retired Brigadier General and president of the National Guard Association, J. Roy Robinson said to Politico. “It’s a Wednesday. And it also coincides with 89 days of deployment for any soldiers who went on federal status at the beginning. I was getting all kind[s] of calls about it and I said, ‘It’s probably just a coincidence.’ But in the back of my mind, I know better. They’re screwing the National Guard members out of the status they should have.”

U.S. Representative from New York and National Guard captain Max Rose has also intensely criticized of the move, calling it the “definition of heartless.” 

“In peacetime, we should never balance our budget on the backs of our soldiers, so why anyone would think this is okay to do in the middle of a wartime effort is beyond human comprehension,” Rose said in a statement.

“This decision must be reversed not only because it is deeply unpatriotic, but also economically unsound and puts our gains against COVID-19 at risk for some short-term, foolish budgetary gimmick.”

While top National Guard and other federal officials on that call didn’t dispute the June 24 cutoff or bring up the possibility of an extension, a spokesperson for the National Guard has said that a decision to extend deployments could still be made in the coming weeks. 

At the same time, the National Guard’s Hall has seemingly countered by saying that the 90-day threshold is cumulative and that Guard members can pick up that final day upon the next federal deployment. 

An abrupt end to National Guard deployment could also create an expensive hole for states to have to attempt to fill.

Reportedly, it costs $9 million a month to support 1,000 active duty members.

Because of that, the National Guard Association has warned that without federal orders and funding, most states won’t be able to “support significant Guard deployments.” 

That would, in turn, potentially create an even bigger problem because for the members that states can’t support, they may actually be taken out of the field before June 24. This is because National Guard members will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks before returning to civilian life.

See what others are saying: (Politico) (The Hill) (Slate)

Politics

Trump Mocks Florida Gov. “Ron DeSanctimonious” Ahead of Possible 2024 Bid

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The former president may announce a bid to take back the White House on Nov. 14, according to his inner circle.


Trump Concocts His Latest Nickname

From “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” to “Sleepy Joe” and “Crazy Bernie,” former president Donald Trump’s nicknames for his political opponents have been known for their punchy style, but Republicans found it hard to swallow his latest mouthful for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

“We’re winning big, big, big in the Republican Party for the nomination like nobody’s ever seen before,” he said Saturday at a rally in Pennsylvania. “Trump at 71, Ron DeSanctimonious at 10%.”

The former president drew rebuke from some allies and conservative commentators for driving a wedge through the GOP three days before the midterm elections.

“DeSantis is an extremely effective conservative governor who has had real policy wins and real cultural wins,” tweeted The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh. “Trump isn’t going to be able to take this one down with a dumb nickname. He better have more than that up his sleeve.”

“What an idiot,” wrote Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative. “DeSantis is a far more effective leader of the Right than Trump was, if, that is, you expect a leader to get a lot done, rather than just talking about it and owning the libs.”

In April 2021, Trump said he would “certainly” consider making DeSantis his running mate for a potential 2024 presidential bid. But as DeSantis established himself as a credible rival to Trump, their relationship grew colder.

Last September, sources told The Washington Post that Trump had called DeSantis “ungrateful” in conversations with advisors. The former president reportedly had not spoken with the governor in months.

The Party of Trump or DeSantis?

One day after his “DeSanctimonious” jab, Trump took to the stage in Florida to support Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R) reelection campaign but grabbed more attention when he seemed to endorse DeSantis for governor.

“The people of Florida are going to reelect the wonderful, the great friend of mine, Marco Rubio to the United States Senate, and you’re going to reelect Ron DeSantis as your governor of your state,” he said to the cheering crowd.

The brief moment of support was overshadowed, however, by the conspicuous absence of DeSantis himself.

Both men held competing, contemporaneous rallies in the same state hundreds of miles apart, and multiple sources told Politico that DeSantis was not invited to Trump’s event, nor did he ask to attend.

The governor has repeatedly refused to say whether he will make a run for the presidency in 2024, but national polling consistently puts Trump ahead of him among Republicans by a wide margin.

Some recent polls, however, have shown DeSantis to lead the former president in specific states like Florida and New Hampshire.

A survey last month found that 72% of GOP voters believe DeSantis should have a great or good deal of influence in the future direction of the party, while just 64% said the same about Trump.

Sources told Axios that Trump’s inner circle is discussing a Nov. 14 announcement for his presidential campaign, timing it to capitalize on the expected post-midterm euphoria as vote counts roll in.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Fox News) (Politico)

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Politics

The Midterms Are Tomorrow, But We May Not Have Results for a While. Here’s What You Need to Know

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The counting of mail-in ballots and possible legal challenges will almost certainly slow the final results.


Election Delays Expected

As Americans gear up for Election Day on Nov. 8, experts are warning that many races, including some of the most highly anticipated ones, may not have the final results in for days or even weeks.

These delays are completely normal and do not indicate that election fraud or issues with vote counting took place. However, like in 2020, former President Donald Trump and other election-denying Republicans could seize on the slow-coming returns to promote false claims to that effect.

There are a number of very legitimate reasons why it could take some time before the final results are solidified.  Each state has different rules for carrying out the election process, like when polls close and when ballots can start being counted.

There are also varying rules for when mail-in ballots can be received and counted that can extend when those votes will be tallied. That lag could seriously skew early results in many places because there has been a major rise in the number of people voting by mail.

Red Mirage, Blue Mirage

One very important thing to note is that the early returns seen on election night may not be representative of the final outcomes. 

In 2020, there was a lot of talk about a “red mirage,” which is when ballots cast on election day and favoring Republicans are reported first while mail-in ballots used more by Democrats are counted later, creating the appearance that Republicans have a much wider lead.

That phenomenon may very well take place in several key battlegrounds that not only could decide the House and the Senate but also have incredibly consequential state-wide elections of their own.

For example, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, election officials cannot start counting mail-in and absentee ballots until Election Day. 

Some experts have also speculated that a similar occurrence could occur in Georiga because the suburbs — which have shifted blue in recent years — report their results later than rural counties.

At the same time, there are also some states where the opposite might happen: a blue mirage that makes it seem like Democrats are doing better than they actually are.

Such a scenario is possible in Arizona, where election officials can process mail-in ballots as soon as they receive them, and where a similar trend played out in 2020.

Other Possible Slow-Downs

Beyond all that, there are a number of other factors that could delay when results are finalized.

For example, in Georgia, candidates need to get at least 50% of the vote to win, and if none do, then the top two are sent to a run-off election on Dec. 6. That is a very real possibility for the state’s closely-watched Senate race because there is a libertarian on the ballot who could siphon enough votes from Republican Herschel Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock to keep them both below the 50% threshold. 

In other words: if control of the Senate comes down to Georgia again — as it did in 2020 and which is a very real possibility — voters may not know the outcome until a month after the election.

Meanwhile, experts also say that legal battles over mail-in ballots could further delay results, or even go to the Supreme Court. According to The New York Times, before Election Day, over 100 lawsuits had already been filed.

In Pennsylvania, for example, the State Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of a lawsuit from Republican groups requesting that mail-in ballots that did not have dates on outer envelopes be invalidated, causing thousands of ballots to be set aside. Multiple rights groups are now suing to get that decision reversed. 

See what others are saying: (NPR) (ABC News) (Reuters)

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DHS Confirms Paul Pelosi Attacker is a Canadian National in the U.S. Illegally

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The suspect espoused many political conspiracy theories promoted by the American far-right and told investigators he wished to harm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send a message to other U.S. politicians.


Pelosi Attacker’s Immigration Issues

The man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi and trying to kidnap House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) is a Canadian national currently residing in the United States illegally, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) late Wednesday.

Law enforcement officials say the suspect embraced far-right conspiracies about U.S. politicians and told investigators he wanted to break the House Speaker’s kneecaps as a lesson to other members of Congress. 

Despite his lack of citizenship, the man also allegedly told police he was on a “suicide mission” and had a list of state and federal lawmakers he wanted to target.

In its statement to the media, DHS said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had lodged a “detainer” on the suspect, which is a notice the agency intends to take custody of an individual who could be deported and requests it be notified before that person is released. The detainer, however, likely will not impact the case against him, because deportations are civil proceedings that happen after criminal cases are resolved.

According to several reports, federal records indicate the suspect came to the U.S. legally via Mexico in March 2008. Canadians who travel to America for business or pleasure are usually able to stay in the country for six months without a visa. DHS told The Washington Post the Canadian citizen was admitted as a “temporary visitor” traveling for pleasure.

Before the confirmation from DHS, there was some mixed reporting on how long the suspected attacker has been in America. On Monday, an anonymous U.S. official told the Associated Press the man had legally entered in 2000 but stayed way after his visa expired.

One day later, The New York Times reported he was registered to vote in San Francisco County from 2002 to 2009, and even voted once in 2002. 

Heightened Security Concerns

The new revelation comes as lawmakers are facing increased threats, prompting conversations about safety and security with a specific focus on the role of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP).

On Tuesday, multiple outlets reported that USCP security cameras trained on the Pelosi’s house actually captured the attack, but no one was watching. In a statement Wednesday, the agency said its command center has access to around 1,800 cameras and not all are watched constantly.

The Capitol Police also said that the Pelosi’s home is “actively” monitored “around the clock” when the Speaker is there, but not when she is in Washington.

As a result, many argued that there should be more security and surveillance for the second person in line for the presidency — especially given the threat of violence after the Jan. 6 insurrection and warnings from law enforcement ahead of the midterms.

That was echoed in a scathing letter yesterday sent to Capitol Police by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Ca.), who is one of the most senior Democrats in Congress and heads the Administration Committee.

In her letter, Lofgren noted that the agency “has previously reported to the committee that the speaker receives the most threats of any member of Congress,” and asked why that protection was not extended “to the spouses and/or other family members of the congressional leaders in the presidential line of succession.”

She questioned why the USCP had turned down an offer from the FBI for some of its officers to be part of terrorism task forces investigating threats against Congressmembers and why it had not made a formal agreement with San Francisco police for a car to be posted at the Pelosi’s home 24-hours a day as had been done in the months after Jan. 6.

Lofgren also inquired why the Capitol Police did not direct more threats against lawmakers for prosecution. She noted that members of Congress received at least 9,625 threats in 2021, but just 217 were referred.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders, suspected mass murderers, or those accused of committing violent crimes who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.

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