Senate bill would strip president’s power to federalize DC police

New Senate legislation, proposed in the wake of widespread protests across the region, would take away the president’s authority to federalize D.C. police and control the District’s National Guard.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who is sharply critical of the way President Donald Trump and his administration handled the protests near the White House earlier this month.

Van Hollen said the way the National Guard was deployed against peaceful protesters was “abhorrent” to him.

“No governor would allow the president to march troops into their state without express approval, and yet the District of Columbia is denied that basic right,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “It’s clear from Trump’s recent actions that the president must be immediately stripped of this authority.”

Van Hollen and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., have proposed legislation that would name the mayor of D.C. commander-in-chief of the District’s National Guard, giving the mayor the same control as that of governors. It would repeal part of the Home Rule Act, which currently allows for the president to control orders for the D.C. National Guard.

A second proposal would also repeal a provision that gives the president authority to federalize the District’s police department.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said the White House inquired about federalizing D.C. police during recent protests.

She supports efforts to give the mayor’s office more autonomy over police and the D.C. National Guard, noting that it’s an important power to recognize as the District presses for statehood.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has previously proposed similar legislation.

This is the first time such a bill has been proposed in the Senate.

Trump has defended his handling of the D.C. protests, arguing that a large law enforcement and military force helped prevent additional looting and property damage.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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