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 John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE threatened to invoke to deploy active-duty troops in response to protests against racial injustices.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarMaloney to lead Democrats' campaign arm Gallego tapped to run Hispanic Caucus's campaign arm Maloney vows to overhaul a House Democratic campaign machine 'stuck in the past' 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 HornThe US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (Okla.), Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.), Jared Golden (Maine), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaChamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday's elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 Luria holds onto Virginia House seat 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 BrownThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Fauci to serve as Biden's chief medical adviser Left seeks to influence Biden picks while signaling unity House Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names MORE (D-Md.) and Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneLawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump's Germany drawdown Bottom line Jerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne MORE (R-Ala.) attempted to talk over each other, and Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithClimate swarming — Biden's 'Plan B' for the planet Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Overnight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget 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.”