Congress nixes provision giving D.C. mayor control over National Guard Despite passing the House, the provision that would give D.C.'s mayor control over the National Guard didn't make it into the final version of Congress' defense bill.
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Congress nixes provision giving D.C. mayor control over National Guard

A compromised version of the National Defense Authorization Act does not include a provision to give D.C. control over its National Guard. Tyrone Turner/WAMU/DCist hide caption

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Tyrone Turner/WAMU/DCist

A congressional bill that would've given the D.C. mayor control over the D.C. National Guard — a demand for local autonomy that's only grown louder following the city's racial justice protests and the Jan. 6 insurrection — won't be coming to fruition. At least, not now.

The bill, known as the D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act, originally passed the House in September as a part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), marking the first time a proposal to give D.C. control over its own National Guard passed either congressional chamber. (Unlike in all states, where governors maintain control of the state National Guard, the president has the authority over D.C.'s National Guard.)

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But following negotiations with House and Senate leaders, the provision is noticeably absent from the final, compromised version of the NDAA that passed on Tuesday.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who introduced the bill in January, released a joint statement with the lawmaker's supporters and co-sponsors, expressing disappointment. It's not the first time Norton has introduced legislation seeking to gain military autonomy in the District.

"We are disappointed that the final NDAA does not give the D.C. mayor appropriate powers to address the response failures of two violent incidents in the nation's capital," reads the statement. "The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and the events at Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020, are prime examples of why giving the mayor control is vital and underscores the urgency of getting such a bill signed into law."

On June 1, 2020, then-president Donald Trump activated guardsmen to Lafayette Square, where law enforcement agencies forcibly removed demonstrators — a scene that one D.C. National Guardsman described as "deeply disturbing." During the violence Jan. 6 insurrection, it took more than three hours for Trump's defense department to deploy troops to the Capitol. Advocates used both instances to propel their push for D.C.'s control over its own National Guard — and more broadly, advance the case for D.C. statehood. But like many statehood-adjacent efforts, the bill died at the feet of congressional Republicans.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a supporter of the home rule bill, told the Washington Post that during NDAA negotiations, congressional Republicans threatened to reject the entire act if it was included.

"When you've got Republicans taking the position that they'll oppose the entire NDAA bill rather than support this provision, the decision was made that we need to pass the bill that funds our national security, national defense," Van Hollen told the Post. "We'll come back and fight this another day."

More:Update: House Passes Bill Giving D.C. Control Over Its National GuardYour Questions About How The National Guard Works In D.C., Answered

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