Norton Introduces Bill to Give D.C. Mayor Local Authority Over D.C. National Guard, Same Authority State and Territorial Governors Have Over Their Guards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced her bill to give the D.C. home-rule authority over the D.C. National Guard.  The bill, the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act, would give the D.C. mayor the authority that the chief executive of states and territories have over their Guards.  The mayor would be able to deploy the D.C. National Guard during local emergencies, including natural disasters and civil disturbances unrelated to national or homeland security, after consultation with the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard.  The President of the United States would retain final authority over federal matters.  Currently, the President controls the D.C. National Guard for both national and local purposes.  Norton earlier succeeded in getting authority for the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard, rather than only the President, to deploy the Guard in order to avoid the federal bureaucracy necessary to call up the D.C. National Guard.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Norton’s full introductory statement is below.

Statement of the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton on the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act

March 21, 2017

Ms. NORTON.  Mr. Speaker, today I introduce the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act, a bill that would give the mayor of the District of Columbia authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard, after consultation with the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard, with the President retaining authority on federal matters.  In local emergencies, including natural disasters and civil disturbances unrelated to national or homeland security, the mayor of the District should have the same authority that governors exercise over the National Guard in their states.  Each governor—including the governors of three U.S. territories with Guards—has the authority to deploy the National Guard to protect his or her state or territory, just as local militia did historically.

The National Guards in the 50 states and territories operate under dual federal and local jurisdiction.  Yet only the President currently has the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard for both national and local purposes.  Today, by far the most likely need for the D.C. National Guard here would be for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods, and to restore order in the wake of civil disturbances.  The mayor, who knows the city better than any federal official and who works closely with federal security officials, should be able to call on the D.C. National Guard for local natural disasters and civil disturbances, after consultation with the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard.  The President should be focused on national matters, including homeland security, not local D.C. matters.  Homeland security authority, with respect to the D.C. National Guard, would remain the sole province of the President, along with the power to federalize the D.C. National Guard for federal matters at will.  It does no harm to give the mayor authority to deploy the Guard for civil disturbances and natural disasters.  However, it could do significant harm to leave the mayor powerless to act quickly.  If it makes sense that governors would have control over the deployment of their National Guards, it makes equal sense for the mayor of the District, with a population the size of a small state, to have the same authority.

The mayor of the District, as chief executive, should have the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard in instances that do not rise to the level of federal homeland security activities.  My bill permits the mayor to only deploy the D.C. National Guard after consultation with the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard.  The bill is another important step toward completing the transfer of full self-government powers to the District.  Congress began with the passage of the Home Rule Act of 1973, when it delegated most of its authority over District matters to an elected mayor and Council.  The bill follows that model.

I urge my colleagues to support the bill

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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is proud to serve the District of Columbia.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, now in her thirteenth term as the Congresswoman for the District of Columbia, is the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. She serves on two committees: the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Contact:

Phone: (202) 408-9041
Fax: (202) 408-9048

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