Video: Biden steps to State of the Union lectern at fraught moment

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Despite the request of President Joe Biden, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will not send Florida National Guard members to the District of Columbia for the president’s State of the Union address.

The reason was not immediately clear. According to the governor, the Biden administration had requested state guards send troops to Washington last week. DeSantis announced his refusal to send guardsmen via Twitter on Monday.

“Last week, the Biden Administration requested the assistance of State National Guards to deploy to Washington D.C. I have rejected this request — there will be no @FLGuard sent to D.C. for Biden’s State of the Union.”

In response to questions about why DeSantis would not be sending Florida Guards to Washington for the State of the Union, the Governor’s Office said service members should not be made political, and issued the following response.

Last week, the federal government requested all states send National Guard personnel to DC to prepare for anticipated “First Amendment protests.” The National Guard should never be misused for political purposes. Last year, when the National Guard deployed to DC around the inauguration, they were forced to sleep in freezing parking lots, all for a regime spectacle. Our dedicated, patriotic service members deserve better.

Statement from the Florida Governor’s Office.

In addition to speaking with the Governor’s Office, 8 On Your Side reached out to the National Guard Bureau for a response to the governor’s statements and about the request for assistance.

The NGB said additional troops were requested for help with coming trucker convoys heading to Washington from multiple parts of the country. In their official response, the National Guard said multiple states had responded to the request for support.

National Guard members stand ready to support lead agencies this week for both the arrival of the Trucker Convoy and for the State of the Union. Currently, the states supporting the Trucker Convoy are DC, WV, NJ and VT. For the State of the Union, the following states will have National Guard members providing support from DC, DE, VA, GA, HI and NC.

Statement from the National Guard Bureau

There were three trucker convoys initially heading to Washington that were expected to arrive in time for the president’s address to U.S. Congress. However, not all of the convoys will arrive in time. One convoy, which started off in Los Angeles, Calif., has already been canceled due to low turn-out, according to reporting by the Associated Press.

The AP also reported there would be 700 unarmed members of the National Guard present to assist with traffic flow as the convoys come to the District of Columbia. Due to DeSantis’ statement, it is now known none of the assistance will come from Florida.

Other truckers are still expected to arrive in Washington for the State of the Union address, coming from all over the U.S. to protest federal COVID-19 policies and mandates.

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