The House has passed legislation to give Washington’s mayor the authority to deploy National Guard troops during a time of an emergency, with the bill’s sponsor pointing to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The measure, which lawmakers passed as part of the chamber’s behemoth annual defense policy bill on Thursday, would grant Mayor Muriel Bowser the same authorities afforded to state governors to mobilize the District’s National Guard.
“The District of Columbia mayor is the chief executive for D.C. and has the best knowledge and most reliable expertise about when to deploy its own National Guard,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia Democrat. “This bill might have ended the insurrection hours earlier on January 6th, and would afford D.C. a critical element of home rule as it moves toward statehood.”
The measure was approved in a largely party-line vote 218-209 as lawmakers waded through a sea of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Republicans pushed back against the amendment, saying it would usurp the president’s authority. The commander-in-chief currently has the sole authority to deploy the District’s National Guard.
Ms. Norton said during floor debate on the measure that the current chain of command is inconsistent with other National Guard forces.
“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,” she said.
House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly, 329-111, to approve the $839 billion NDAA on Thursday.