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Illinois National Guard Warns Of Dire Straits If Congressional Reimbursement For January 6 Response Doesn't Come Soon

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Maj. Gen Rich Neely participates in a July 16, 2021 virtual press conference with Adjutant Generals from Massachusetts and Indiana.

The commander of the Illinois National Guard says they will be forced to make major cutbacks if Congress doesn't reimburse them soon for the costs they incurred responding to the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Major General Rich Neely is commander of the Illinois National Guard. He says they face a $31 million shortfall if funding doesn't come through by August.

"Unfortunately, we're at this point now that we have to start looking at what it'll take to shut the National Guard down to recover these funds by the end of the year that will just not be in our coffers going forward," he said.

Neely said the National Guard Bureau forwarded $520.9 million to state National Guards from several accounts for the Jan. 6 response, with the expectation of congressional reimbursement. But they face an Anti-Deficiency Act violation if that money isn't restored by the end of this month.

Neely said the Illinois National Guard will be forced to furlough a thousand civilian employees, ground aircraft, and cancel drills. He says that will harm the guard's readiness to respond to everything from natural disasters to COVID-19.

"It goes back to our motto, 'always ready, always there,' because we have to be prepared at a moment's notice to respond. So this not only affects national security, but it also affects homeland, and our states and our communities. The security that we have there," he said.

The Illinois Air National Guard uses KC-135 and C-130 aircraft for refueling missions around the world.

Neely said more than 800 Illinois National Guard troops were sent to the U.S. Capitol over three deployments to provide additional security between January and May.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.