D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser

House Democrats Say DC's Mayor- Not the President Should Control the D.C. National Guard

The governors of Maryland and Virginia tried to help get National Guard troops to the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Donald Trump refused.

Democrats approved an amendment to the annual defense spending bill to grant the mayor of Washington, D.C. authority over the city’s national guard.

The issue over who has authority over the D.C. National Guard has been in consideration since the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, gave testimony in March 2021 that the Department of Defense under former President Trump took about three hours to authorize the force to send personnel to the Capitol during the attacks by Trump supporters. The armed mob flew confederate flags, wore neo-nazi and white supremacist regalia as they followed plans to attack the Captiol to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election.  

The measure would give the D.C. mayor, currently Muriel Bowser, command over the D.C. National Guard. As the District has no governor to oversee the National Guard, it’s historically been left to the president to direct the force.  

Delegate Elanor Holmes Norton was joined in sponsoring the amendment by Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Anthony Brown of Maryland. A vote of 218-209 let the measure be added to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The fact that Donald Trump, the only U.S. president to be twice impeached, refused to deploy the national guard was brought up during the Jan. 6 select committee’s first public hearing last month. Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the panel, said Trump “gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day,” explaining that former Vice President Pence urged the National Guard to go to the Capitol to defend it from the insurrectionists.

Norton pointed to the Capitol siege as the reason the amendment is necessary. Arguing on the House floor that the D.C. mayor is best equipped to make decisions for the nation’s capital, Norton said that Trump’s refusal to deploy the D.C. National Guard was disastrous, “likely costing lives and prolonging the attack.” 

The House-approved version of last year’s NDAA also would have given Bowser authority over the National Guard, but the provision was stripped from the final version of the bill, according to Norton’s office.

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