Norton bill aims to give DC mayor control over District National Guard

A bill from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., would give control of the District’s National Guard to the city’s mayor — and it’s scheduled for markup Wednesday.

Right now, the president controls the D.C. National Guard, because D.C. isn’t a state, while the governors of states and territories control the National Guards.

“The District of Columbia mayor is the chief executive for our jurisdiction and has the best knowledge and most reliable expertise about when to deploy our own National Guard,” Norton said.

“The D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act, which I had introduced for years before the January 6th insurrection, simply gives the District’s chief executive the same authority afforded to governors of states and territories over their Guards,” she said.

Norton said her bill would have “ended the insurrection hours earlier,” and she called it “another step toward granting full equality to D.C. on our road to statehood.”

She said Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith is a strong supporter of D.C. statehood and thanked him for including the bill in the National Defense Authorization Act.


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The bill is has support from Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md.

“On January 6th, as a violent mob of insurrectionists attacked the Capitol, District of Columbia officials were left hamstrung, as the Department of Defense took hours to approve the deployment of the National Guard – a delay it has never adequately explained,” Van Hollen said in a release.

“It’s clear that the District must have complete authority over its National Guard to protect its own safety and security and that of our nation’s capital. I’m glad to see the House Armed Services Committee include this vital measure in their proposed National Defense Authorization Act, and I’ll continue pressing my colleagues in the Senate to follow suit,” he said.

Brown said the bill was important to prevent the president from using the National Guard against protesters in D.C.

“Last year, we witnessed the Trump Administration’s unacceptable order for the D.C. Guard to use force against peaceful protestors and delay preparation and response to the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. In doing so, the previous administration put the lives of D.C. residents in jeopardy and undermined our national security,” Brown said.

“I commend Congresswoman Norton’s tireless advocacy for the rights of her city, our neighbors, and all those who live in Washington, D.C. By giving the D.C. mayor the same authority as state and territorial governors over its Guard, we’ll take another important step toward full statehood and ensure both safety and emergency responsiveness in our nation’s capital,” he said.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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