September 02, 2021

Van Hollen, Norton, Maloney, Carper, and Brown Announce Bill to Give D.C. Mayor Control Over D.C. National Guard Passed by House Armed Services Committee

First time in history a committee approved bill giving D.C. mayor such authority

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Congresswomen Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Md.) announced that their District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act, which would give the D.C. mayor control over the D.C. National Guard (DCNG), passed early this morning in the House Armed Services Committee as part of the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Van Hollen is the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. Currently, the President controls the DCNG, while the governors of the states and territories control their National Guards. Today’s passage is the first time in history a committee in either chamber has passed a bill that would give the D.C. mayor control over the DCNG. The NDAA, the annual defense policy bill, has been enacted for each of the last 60 years.

“On January 6th, as our nation’s capital was under attack by insurrectionists, DC officials were unable to immediately mobilize the National Guard, as the Department of Defense took hours to approve their deployment. It’s clear that the District must have complete authority over its National Guard to protect its own safety and security and that of our capital. I’m glad to see the House Armed Services Committee pass this vital measure in their proposed National Defense Authorization Act, and I’ll keep pressing my colleagues in the Senate to follow suit,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“The District of Columbia mayor is the chief executive for our jurisdiction and has the best knowledge and most reliable expertise about when to deploy our own National Guard,” Congresswoman Norton said. “The D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act, which I had introduced for years before the January 6th insurrection, simply gives the District’s chief executive the same authority afforded to governors of states and territories over their Guards. If our bill had been law on January 6th, it would have brought that day’s insurrection to an end hours earlier and would afford D.C. a critical element of home rule as we simultaneously fight for statehood. Today's passage of our bill out of committee is another step toward granting full equality to D.C. on our road to statehood.”

“I applaud the House Armed Services Committee for passing this landmark legislation out of their Committee,” said Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “It is long past time for the Mayor of the District of Columbia to have appropriate authorities to deploy and mobilize the National Guard. The horrific events of January 6 laid bare just how high the stakes are and this legislation will help reduce the likelihood that an attack on Congress of that magnitude can ever happen again.”

“After watching a violent mob of insurrectionists invade the Capitol on January 6th, one thing was abundantly clear: The District of Columbia should have had full authority over its National Guard to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s capital. As a former Governor, I called on Delaware’s National Guard to respond to numerous emergencies such as floods, blizzards, ice storms, drought, and more. The District of Columbia should be afforded that same right, a right that is given to all our fifty states and four U.S. territories,” Senator Carper said. “I’m glad the House Armed Services Committee passed this vital legislation, which would finally give D.C. control over its National Guard – and I’ll continue to press my Senate colleagues to do the same.” 

“In the past two years, we saw clear examples of the current command structure for the DC Guard failing our nation and residents of the District. The over militarized response to the Black Lives Matter protests and the insurrection on January 6th that threatened our democracy illustrated why it is critical for senior elected officials, like the D.C Mayor, to have authority over the Guard to protect public safety and respond to emergency situations,” said Congressman Brown. “This amendment is an important step forward for 700,000 of our neighbors in Washington D.C. toward greater local control and ultimately statehood.”