Biden Signs Bill Giving Capitol Police Unilateral Authority To Request National Guard Assistance

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 09: National Guard troops stand guard before the start of the second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump February 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. House impeachment managers w... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 09: National Guard troops stand guard before the start of the second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump February 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. House impeachment managers will make the case that Trump was “singularly responsible” for the January 6th attack at the U.S. Capitol and he should be convicted and barred from ever holding public office again. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS

President Biden on Wednesday signed into law a bill that would give the chief of the Capitol Police unilateral authority to request support from the National Guard. The bill easily passed both the House and Senate.

Prior to the President’s signing of the bill into law, the chief was required to get the consent of the Capitol Police Board to request assistance in the event of an emergency.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed their belief that the previous protocol for requesting support from federal law enforcement is what led to a delayed response when a mob of former President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Last March, Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the DC National Guard, detailed the hours-long delay in the Trump Defense Department’s approval of a request for the DC National guard to provide assistance on Jan. 6 while testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees.

Although he had National Guard troops ready to go, Walker testified that the troops sat idly for hours before he was given authorization to send them out. Walker said that he could have gotten personnel into the Capitol building within 20 minutes of getting approval, but instead, support from the Guard did not arrive until the evening.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that her office will hold a series of events next month to commemorate the one year anniversary of the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. In a letter to the Democratic caucus on Monday, Pelosi said that despite the House not being in session during the first week of next month, some members “have expressed interest in being involved in commemoration activities.”

As part of a “full program” of events commemorating the Capitol insurrection, which will also be live-streamed, Pelosi asked Democrats to fully prepare for a “solemn observance” of Jan. 6.

Pelosi’s announcement followed White House press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters that it plans to commemorate Jan. 6 as well.

“Jan. 6 was one of the darkest days in our democracy,” Psaki said. “It was a day when our nation’s capital was under attack and I think there’s no question you’ll see us commemorate that day.”

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: