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DC Mayor Could Deploy National Guard Under Defense Bill Approved by House

July 22, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
DC Mayor Could Deploy National Guard Under Defense Bill Approved by House
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser during a recent appearance on "Face the Nation."

WASHINGTON — The District of Columbia’s mayor would gain a right to call out the National Guard in an emergency under the National Defense Authorization Act approved by the U.S. House of Representatives this month.

The $840.2 billion bill would fund the Defense Department for the next year.

Giving Washington’s mayor authority to deploy the National Guard became an issue after the slow response to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Police were overwhelmed by thousands of protesters.

Only the president can call out the National Guard in the District of Columbia under current law. Then-President Donald Trump was slow to make the call for reasons known only to himself.

An amendment to the pending National Defense Authorization Act would share the authority between the president and Washington’s mayor, similar to governors of each state.

The defense bill amendment extending the right to the mayor was introduced by Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton, the District’s Democratic delegate to Congress.

“During Jan.  6, the Trump administration delayed deploying the D.C. National Guard for several hours, likely costing lives and prolonging the attack,” Norton said.

She added, “This is no different from the division of authority today between a governor and the president, in the event of a large-scale attack on a federal facility.”

The strongest opposition is coming from Republicans. They say the National Guard is run by each state, which does not include the District of Columbia.

“It would create a series of dilemmas in the event that the D.C. mayor and the president disagreed on the (deployment) of the Guard,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., said during debate on Holmes-Norton’s amendment. “It would only delay response time and create new areas of friction that we don’t need.”

The Senate has not yet voted on the National Defense Authorization Act.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com or on Twitter at @tramstack.

 

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