Leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee have reached agreement on a $2 billion supplemental spending bill that will include $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for the cost of deployment to the US Capitol that began January 6. The next steps include passage through the Senate, approval by the House of a version with no changes and being signed by President Biden.
Frank Kendall has received confirmation from the US Senate to become the 26th secretary of the Air Force. Kendall served as undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics for four years ending in 2016.
Both a draft of the defense policy bill that will be debated in the House and the companion bill moving in the Senate include a basic needs allowance for low-income military families. Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, said during a panel discussion that food insecurity among military families is one of the department's top priorities and the agency is compiling data to better understand the scope of the issue.
Gov. Gavin Newsom's order that all California state employees be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing will apply to the state's National Guard. "The California Military Department, which includes the California Army and Air National Guard and the California State Guard, will fully comply with and implement the governor's directive on regular COVID-19 testing for those not vaccinated and vaccination verification of those who are," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma, a spokesman for the California Guard.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will require its 115,000 health care workers who work directly with patients to get a COVID-19 vaccine within the next eight weeks, making it the first federal agency to mandate vaccination for its employees. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said the move is intended to ensure the safety of veterans and expressed concern about coronavirus outbreaks among staff members at several VA health care centers that resulted in staff shortages and forced the VA to implement emergency measures.
Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texas National Guard members to provide unspecified assistance to the state Department of Public Safety in arresting migrants for state criminal violations such as trespassing, smuggling and human trafficking. "To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed," Abbott said in a letter to Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, head of the Texas Guard.