Press Releases

DelBene Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Protect National Guard Families

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Washington, DC, February 12, 2016 | comments

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring National Guard members retain their health coverage when responding to state emergencies, such as landslides or earthquakes.

“In the aftermath of the SR 530 landslide, highly trained members of the Washington National Guard did a tremendous job helping with search-and-rescue and decontamination operations. Unfortunately, some of these members and their families inadvertently lost health coverage because of their participation in the state’s response. My bill fixes a discrepancy in federal law to ensure all our brave men and women are covered when they respond to state emergencies.”

The National Guard often serves as the primary resource for states during times of disaster. Unfortunately, some Guard members serving on new Homeland Response Force (HRF) units — which provide rapid response capabilities in the event of an emergency — are at risk of losing health coverage when responding to natural disasters or emergencies, based on the unique status they serve under. H.R. 4554 will guarantee these Guard members and their families retain health coverage during disaster response efforts.

DelBene first announced the bill last August alongside Major General Bret Daugherty, the state’s adjutant general and commander of the Washington National Guard. It is also supported by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the National Guard Association of the United States.

H.R. 4554 was introduced with 22 cosponsors, including bipartisan support from seven members of the House Armed Services Committee. The Committee is set to begin work on the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in April. DelBene is optimistic that with broad bipartisan support in the House, this important bill can be included in this year’s NDAA.


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