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Lawmakers Request DC Mayor Be Given Control Over National Guard in NDAA

April 12, 2022 by Reece Nations
Lawmakers Request DC Mayor Be Given Control Over National Guard in NDAA
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during a news conference about the arrest of suspect in a recent string of attacks on homeless people, Tuesday, March 15, 2022, in Washington. A gunman suspected of stalking homeless people asleep on the streets of New York City and Washington, killing at least two people and wounding three others, was arrested early Tuesday, police said. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — A group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leadership asking for the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act to be included in the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

The act would grant Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser control over the D.C. National Guard after its inclusion was blocked from the fiscal year 2022 NDAA over objections from Senate Republicans. The D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act initially passed the House of Representatives as part of the 2022 NDAA.

The five Democrats, Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Anthony Brown, D-Md., along with Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Tom Carper, D-Del., jointly authored the letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Although the governors of states and territories control their respective National Guards, the president controls the D.C. National Guard.

The members referenced the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as the underlying reason for the request, which saw the first National Guard members arrive for support at then-President Donald Trump’s behest around 5:40 p.m. when the situation had mostly calmed down.

“Deployment of the D.C. National Guard was delayed by several hours that day, likely costing lives,” Norton said in a written statement. “It is critically important for [the District of Columbia] that my bill be included in the fiscal year 2023 NDAA.”

Following the attack, Trump claimed that he “immediately” deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the Capitol building and expel the intruders. Department of Defense officials reported it was then-Vice President Mike Pence who approved the deployment of D.C.’s National Guard that afternoon.

Defense Department officials stressed that Capitol Police did not request National Guard troops for the Capitol prior to the pro-Trump rally that preceded the events on Jan. 6.

According to a Pentagon timeline issued on Jan. 8, Bowser and the D.C. Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Christopher Rodriguez, delivered a written request for the National Guard to support the Metropolitan Police Department on Dec. 31.

The Pentagon later reported that Trump agreed to activate the D.C. National Guard to support Metropolitan police, not Capitol Police, with crowd and traffic control. Bowser said during a press conference on Jan. 7 that Capitol Police and the leadership at the Capitol did not make the decision to call in guard support.

“As a former governor, I know firsthand how critical it is for states and territories to be able to call on the National Guard when disaster strikes,” Carper said in a written statement. “But when emergencies arise in the District of Columbia, the mayor has to wait for help because D.C. does not have control over its own National Guard.”

“The horrifying events that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6 made it crystal clear that D.C. should not have to wait for permission to authorize its National Guard troops,” Carper continued.

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com.

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