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Statement

Coalition Letter Urges Congress to Support D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act

On April 26, 2021, the Brennan Center joined more than 20 other civil society groups in calling on Congress to pass S. 130/H.R. 657, the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act.

Published: April 29, 2021

Unlike the National Guards of all fifty states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia National Guard is never under local control. Instead, it reports directly to the pres­id­ent. This unusual command struc­ture is a relic left over from before Wash­ing­ton, D.C. had any local govern­ment, and it creates two seri­ous prob­lems. First, it leaves a danger­ous loop­hole in the Posse Comit­atus Act. That vulner­ab­il­ity was abused in June 2020, when the pres­id­ent exploited his control over the D.C. Guard to effect­ively feder­al­ize large numbers of state National Guard troops without follow­ing the proced­ures estab­lished by Congress in the Insur­rec­tion Act. Second, the current command struc­ture, which has become heav­ily bureau­crat­ized, can inhibit the rapid deploy­ment of the D.C. Guard in a real crisis. We saw this scen­ario play out on Janu­ary 6, when the Guard’s response to the riot at the Capitol lagged hours behind the D.C. Mayor’s dispatch of the Metro­pol­itan Police.

The Bren­nan Center urges Congress to pass the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act, which solves both of these prob­lems by trans­fer­ring control over the D.C. Guard from the pres­id­ent to the Mayor of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Coali­tion Letter Urges Congress to Support D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act by The Bren­nan Center for Justice on Scribd