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Coalition Letter Urges Biden to Support Reforms to Domestic Deployment of the National Guard

On September 21, 2021, the Brennan Center joined 18 organizations from across the political spectrum in calling upon the Biden administration to endorse three crucial changes to the laws governing domestic deployment of the National Guard.

Last Updated: September 28, 2021
Published: September 28, 2021

The final year of Donald Trump’s pres­id­ency — and the early months of Joe Biden’s — exposed several flaws in the laws that author­ize and constrain the deploy­ment of milit­ary forces on Amer­ican soil. First, in response to predom­in­antly peace­ful protests follow­ing George Floy­d’s murder, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion summoned a large contin­gent of National Guards­men to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. against the mayor’s wishes, exploit­ing loop­holes in Title 32 of the United States Code to circum­vent the Posse Comit­atus Act and dispense with the proced­ures outlined in the Insur­rec­tion Act. Second, during the Janu­ary 6 insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capitol, the D.C. mayor’s request to deploy local National Guard person­nel languished before an unre­spons­ive admin­is­tra­tion, hamper­ing the D.C. govern­ment’s hand­ling of an ongo­ing crisis. And in the early months of the Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion, the Governor of South Dakota soli­cited private dona­tions to fund a deploy­ment of her state’s National Guard to the south­ern border, an act of polit­ical theater that raised the specter of corrup­tion and mercen­ary action.

This year’s National Defense Author­iz­a­tion Act (NDAA) (H.R. 4350), as repor­ted by the House Commit­tee on Armed Services, contains provi­sions to address each of these stat­utory short­com­ings. The D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act (Subtitle F) would place the D.C. Guard under the perman­ent control of the mayor rather than pres­id­ent, a shift that would render it more respons­ive in times of crisis and fortify the protec­tions of the Posse Comit­atus Act. Section 504, proposed by Repres­ent­at­ive Mikie Sher­rill (D-NJ), would bar inter­state deploy­ment under Title 32 of the United States Code without the consent of the host juris­dic­tion, while Section 503, an amend­ment offered by Repres­ent­at­ive Veron­ica Esco­bar (D-TX), would largely outlaw the use of private funds for National Guard deploy­ments across state lines.

Taken together, these changes would help guard against politi­cized abuses of domestic milit­ary deploy­ment. The Bren­nan Center urges the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to support these three provi­sions of the 2022 NDAA.

Coali­tion Letter Urges Biden to Support Reforms to Domestic Deploy­ment of the National Guard by The Bren­nan Center for Justice on Scribd