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 TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE threatened to invoke to deploy active-duty troops in response to protests against racial injustices.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality Democrats hope clash resonates with key bloc: Women 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 HornRepublicans uncomfortably playing defense The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war House Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats MORE (Okla.), Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.), Jared Golden (Maine), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaHouse panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate Republican Scott Taylor wins Virginia primary, to face Elaine Luria in rematch National Retail Federation hosts virtual 'store tours' for lawmakers amid coronavirus 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 BrownDemocrats demand Esper explicitly ban Confederate flag and allow Pride, Native Nations flags Trump tweets key GOP lawmaker has committed to not changing Confederate base names Overnight Defense: Senate passes annual defense policy bill that sparked Trump veto threat | Military has considered two waivers for transgender troops since ban MORE (D-Md.) and Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneJerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne Jeff Sessions loses comeback bid in Alabama runoff Sessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff MORE (R-Ala.) attempted to talk over each other, and Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response The Hill's Coronavirus Report: iBIO Chairman and CEO Thomas Isett says developing a safe vaccine is paramount; US surpasses 150,000 coronavirus deaths with roughy one death per minute Overnight Defense: US to pull 11,900 troops from Germany | Troop shuffle to cost 'several billion' dollars | Lawmakers pan drawdown plan | Trump says he hasn't discussed alleged bounties with Putin 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.”