Press Releases

In light of Wednesday’s violent riot, lawmakers say that local D.C. public safety should not be subject to whim of any President

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) joined Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, to say that Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol demonstrated once again that local public safety in the District of Columbia (D.C.) is subject to the whim of the President and that it is past time for Congress, pending D.C. statehood, to pass legislation to give the District’s mayor control over the D.C. National Guard and to repeal the President’s authority to federalize the D.C. police department. The Members of Congress will soon reintroduce the “District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act” and the “District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act” to do so.

The Members issued the following statements:

“The violence we witnessed Wednesday in our nation’s capital was unprecedented and extreme and has left our citizens reeling, especially those who call Washington, D.C. home. It also underscored the importance of DC statehood and made it crystal clear why DC officials must have full control over their city’s own security and police force to secure the public safety of its residents,” said Senator Tom Carper. “That’s why I am proud to be joining my House and Senate colleagues to urge Congress to give the mayor of D.C. the same control over her National Guard that the governors of the 50 states have and to fix the provision in current law that allows the President to take control of the city’s local police department whenever he pleases. We must ensure the District of Columbia has control of its National Guard and Metropolitan Police Department – autonomy that all 50 states enjoy.”

“The chaos and confusion behind Wednesday’s attacks highlight a critical fact – the District of Columbia must have complete authority to control its own national guard and police forces. From the President’s abuses of power this summer, to the violent mob attacks we witnessed on our Capitol, it’s clear that this authority should belong to the Mayor in order to protect the District, its residents, and our nation’s capital. The Congress must take this action at once,” said Senator Van Hollen, the lead sponsor of the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act and the District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act in the Senate.

“While the insurrection at the Capitol was an attack on a federal building and not D.C. property, it highlighted more starkly than ever the risk to local D.C. public safety from the president’s control over the D.C. National Guard and ultimate authority over the D.C. police department,” Congresswoman Norton said. “The mayor should not be reliant on the president to deploy the National Guard to protect public safety in D.C., and D.C. should never have to worry that a president will take over its police force and use it how he or she sees fit. While we fight for D.C. statehood, Congress now has all the evidence it needs to pass the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act and the District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act.”

“Wednesday’s riot makes clear once again that D.C. statehood must become a reality and that the District must have the power to deploy the National Guard when the need is present,” Rep. Maloney said. “The District should control its own police force and be able to provide for its own security.  The District has demonstrated its ability to coordinate with the many federal security agencies present in the District for years and did so again yesterday.  I will proudly join Congresswoman Norton to introduce both the ‘District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act’ and the ‘District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act’ this Congress.”

Under federal law, the president controls the D.C. National Guard, while the governors of the states and territories control their National Guards. Under the Home Rule Act, the president has the authority to federalize the D.C. police department. During the protests in D.C. after the killing of George Floyd, the Trump administration threatened to federalize the D.C. police department.