Carper Highlights Public Safety Case for D.C. Statehood at Hearing on January 6 Security Breakdowns

Carper: “I’m convinced if someone would have been able to activate the DC National Guard…in timely way…this death and destruction would not have occurred”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, during a joint hearing, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and longtime lead author of legislation making D.C. the 51st state, noted that the District’s control over their own National Guard would have likely hastened and improved the response to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. On January 6, the Department of Defense denied a request from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to expand D.C. National Guard’s mission that day so they could be authorized to respond to the insurrection.

Carper today drew on his own experience as governor of Delaware from 1993 to 2001, during which he also served as commander-in-chief of the state’s National Guard. Of the 54 National Guard units in the United States – 50 for states and four belonging to territories – the D.C. National Guard is the only force that does not operate under the command of local leaders. D.C. statehood would give the state’s executive full authority over the National Guard unit. On January 27, Sen. Carper reintroduced the Washington, D.C. Admission Act to give statehood to the District. The bill currently has 39 cosponsors. He is also a cosponsor of the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act which would grant the District of Columbia control over its own National Guard and police force.

“…I recall numerous instances in which I called on the Delaware National Guard in emergencies,” said Carper at today’s hearing. “It could have been floods, ice storms, drought, you name it…As we have learned in contrast to every other states’ National Guard in the country, the D.C. National Guard operates differently. I’m convinced if someone would have been able to activate the DC National Guard and have a thousand or two thousand guardsmen and women deployed at the Capitol, in timely way on the 6th of January, this death and destruction would not have occurred…That’s one of the reasons why I have worked for years with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton in support of legislation to admit Washington, D.C. as our 51st state…”

Carper then asked the D.C. Acting Chief of Police Robert Contee on how the mayor’s control over the District’s own National Guard could have improved preparation and response time on January 6th:

Carper: “Can you just take a minute to share with us your thoughts on whether having the D.C. National Guard under the command of a mayor or even a governor from a neighboring state might help the D.C. metropolitan police in coordinating with federal authorities to better protect the city and its citizens and along with federal installations during an assault like the one we experienced on January the 6th?”

Chief Contee: “Yes, I think we certainly should. We knew even on that day on January the 6th prior to any movement of the National Guard from assignments that they had been given, traffic posts, again that required approval at the highest levels of the federal government to include the Secretary of the Army or Secretary of Defense in order to just move the national guard or change in mission in essence. So yes I think that should certainly be something that falls under the mayor’s authority.”

To view Sen. Carper’s full exchange, click HERE.