House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate

House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate
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The House Armed Services Committee has voted against limiting presidential authority under the Insurrection Act, the law President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE threatened to invoke to deploy active-duty troops in response to protests against racial injustices.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarThree Democrats call for investigation into Sidney Powell to move 'swiftly' Court rulings put Biden in tough spot with Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' policy Supreme Court ruling on Texas abortion law rattles lawmakers MORE (D-Texas), failed largely along party lines in a 25-31 vote. Several moderate or vulnerable Democrats voted against the amendment: Reps. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornHow will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? Why does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? The US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it MORE (Okla.), Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.), Jared Golden (Maine), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaBusiness groups create new headache for Pelosi Chamber of Commerce warns moderate Democrats against voting for reconciliation GOP ramps up pressure on vulnerable Democrats in spending fight MORE (Va.), Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.) and Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.).

Last month, Trump threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act at the height of the protests, saying he would deploy active-duty troops if governors did not “dominate” demonstrators.


The 1807 act creates an exception to the general prohibition on using the U.S. military to enforce domestic laws. It was last used by former President George H.W. Bush at the request of California’s governor to quell the 1992 Rodney King riots.

Trump has not invoked the Insurrection Act despite his threat, but Democrats are still pushing changes to the law after federal law enforcement used force to clear protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House. Trump also deployed thousands of National Guardsmen to Washington, D.C., and the administration ordered active-duty soldiers to deploy to outside D.C. and be ready to enter the city if ordered.

Escobar’s amendment would have required a president to make a certification to Congress that a state is unwilling or unable to suppress an unlawful obstruction or rebellion before invoking the Insurrection Act.

It would also have given Congress the power to pass a resolution to terminate a president’s use of the act.

The debate over the amendment was the most heated of the House Armed Services Committee’s National Defense Authorization Act markup Wednesday.


Tempers flared as Reps. Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab House panel advances 8B defense bill Democrats defeat GOP effort to declare 'lost confidence' in Biden after Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (D-Md.) and Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneTrump's Slovenia Ambassador Lynda Blanchard jumps into Alabama Senate race Mo Brooks expresses interest in running for Shelby's Senate seat Ex-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm MORE (R-Ala.) attempted to talk over each other, and Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE (D-Wash.) attempted to intervene.

Byrne first attempted to talk over Brown, but stopped after Smith took control of the proceeding and told Byne “you know the rules … don’t act aggrieved.”

When it was Byrne’s turn, Brown attempted to talk over him, and when Smith tried to stop that, Brown did not yield.

When Byrne implored Smith to intervene, Smith told him to “chill.”

After repeatedly saying Brown’s name, Smith shouted, “Mr. Brown” and struck his gavel three times.

“Anthony,” an exasperated Smith said as Brown kept talking. “Are you kidding me, Anthony? Anthony, please suspend.”

Brown then asked Smith to treat him the same as Byrne, saying he “didn’t hear a first name admonition” against Byrne. Smith replied that was because Byrne stopped talking.

Smith then turned back to Byrne, who yielded time to Brown. Brown used that time to apologize.

“What I’m going to do is use my 30 seconds to make a very sincere, genuine apology to you, to the chairman and to this committee,” Brown said.

Smith said later in the markup he and Brown spoke to each other and that “we’re all good.”