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Carper, Van Hollen announce amendment to strip president's ability to control DC National Guard

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, announced July 1 they are filing an amendment to the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that would strip the president’s authority to control the District of Columbia National Guard and grant the mayor of Washington, D.C., 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.

The amendment follows last week’s House passage of the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act, legislation introduced in the Senate by Carper and cosponsored by Van Hollen. Carper and Van Hollen also on July 1 participated in a hearing led by the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee on D.C. Statehood.

“The fact that the president of the United States deployed the National Guard against peaceful protestors in the District of Columbia for a photo-op is abhorrent to me — not just as someone who has served in the military, but just as a human being,” said Carper, who introduced the first Senate D.C. statehood bill in 2013. “And the only reason the President was able to carry out that order is because D.C. is not a state — and therein lies the problem. What happened in Lafayette Square has made clear that, while we work on the important issue of D.C. statehood, the District of Columbia should be granted control over its National Guard and Metropolitan Police Department — autonomy that every single state enjoys. This year’s defense authorization bill is a clear opportunity for Congress to right this wrong and that’s why Sen. Van Hollen and I have filed an amendment to include our bill that would give the mayor of D.C. the same control over its National Guard that all 50 states have. If we are to have a healthy democracy, we cannot let what happened to peaceful protestors in Lafayette Square happen again.”

The amendment mirrors the Senators’ District of Columbia Home Rule Act, legislation they announced June 18. Recently, a coalition of over 100 groups, including leading civil rights, labor, democracy and environmental groups, sent a letter calling on Congress to give Washington, D.C., control over the D.C. National Guard.