January 28, 2021

Van Hollen, Carper, Norton Reintroduce Bills to Grant D.C. Full Control Over Its National Guard, Police

January 6th Insurrection and Reports that the Pentagon Restricted D.C. Action Show Urgent Need for this Legislation

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) reintroduced their legislation to grant the District of Columbia full control over the D.C. National Guard and the Metropolitan Police Department. These measures have proven all the more necessary after the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, when Mayor Bowser’s request for additional support from the D.C. National Guard took nearly three hours to be fully approved by the Trump Administration. The legislation follows yesterday’s Senate introduction of the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, legislation to grant the District of Columbia statehood, led by Senator Carper and cosponsored by Senator Van Hollen. 

“On January 6th, as a violent mob attacked the Capitol, District of Columbia officials were left hamstrung and unable to act. From Trump’s abuses of power this summer, to the insurrection on January 6th, it’s clear that the District must have complete authority over its National Guard and police forces to protect its own safety and security and that of our nation’s capital,” said Senator Van Hollen. “While the governors of all fifty states and three U.S. territories control their own National Guard forces, D.C. is denied that basic right. As we fight for D.C. Statehood, we must also ensure the District is granted this important instrument of self-governance.”

“Donald Trump’s deployment of the D.C. National Guard against peaceful protestors last summer and his delayed response in calling the National Guard to the violent insurrection of the Capitol on January 6th have made it clear that, while we work on the important issue of D.C. statehood, it is critical to grant the District of Columbia control over its National Guard and Metropolitan Police Department – autonomy that every state enjoys,” said Senator Carper. “Without full authority over their city’s own security and police force, D.C. officials are limited in their ability to secure the safety of the hundreds of thousands of residents who call our nation’s capital home. As we work towards granting D.C. statehood, I’m proud to be working with Senator Van Hollen on legislation to give the mayor of D.C. the same control over her National Guard that all the governors of the 50 states have and fix the provision in current law that allows the President to take control of the city’s local police whenever he or she pleases. This is a good first step in ensuring the residents of D.C. are afforded the same rights and protections all Americans enjoy.”

The District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act would name the Mayor of Washington, D.C. as Commander-in-Chief of the D.C. National Guard, giving the Mayor the same control over the D.C. National Guard that the governors of the states and the three territories with National Guards have over their respective National Guards. Under current law, the President is Commander-in-Chief of the D.C. National Guard. Last year, a coalition of over 100 groups, including leading civil rights, labor, democracy and environmental groups, sent a letter calling on Congress to give D.C. control over the D.C. National Guard. 

The District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act would repeal the provision in the Home Rule Act that gives the President the authority to federalize the Metropolitan Police Department. The Home Rule Act provides that, “whenever the President of the United States determines that special conditions of an emergency nature exist which require the use of the Metropolitan Police force for Federal purposes, he may direct the mayor to provide him, and the mayor shall provide, such services of the Metropolitan Police force as the President may deem necessary and appropriate.”

Senators Van Hollen and Carper first introduced this legislation in June 2020, following President Trump’s unconstitutional use of force against peaceful protestors in D.C. During that period of protests, Mayor Bowser confirmed that the White House had inquired about federalizing the Metropolitan Police Department. Following the events of January 6th, the lawmakers re-upped their call for action on this legislation and emphasized that they would soon reintroduce both bills. 

In addition to Senators Van Hollen and Carper, the D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act is supported by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

In addition to Senators Van Hollen and Carper, the D.C. Police Home Rule Act is supported by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).