Norton Files Amendment to Police Reform Bill to Repeal President’s Authority to Federalize the D.C. Police Department

Jun 22, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that today she filed an amendment at the Rules Committee to H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, that would repeal the President’s authority to federalize the D.C. police department. The Rules Committee will consider amendments to H.R. 7120 on Wednesday, and the House will vote on H.R. 7120 on Thursday.
The District of Columbia Home Rule Act gives the President the authority to federalize the D.C. police department. When Congress debated D.C. home rule in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was opposition to giving D.C. control over its police department because it was a majority-black city. This month, the Trump Administration contemplated federalizing the D.C. police department in response to the protests against police brutality.
“No local police department in the country is at risk of having the President federalize their officers, no matter the circumstances, except the District of Columbia’s,” Norton said. “Even under the Home Rule Act, the District police department should be treated no differently from any other jurisdiction. The citizens of the District deserve to know that their police department cannot be taken over by the federal government. After witnessing the Trump Administration’s response to the protests, where peaceful protesters were sprayed with tear gas, it is terrifying to think of what the President would do if he federalized the D.C. police department. The Mayor of this city is fully capable, just like every other mayor, of managing the D.C. police department.”
The amendment is identical to Norton’s District of Columbia Police Home Rule Act (H.R. 3092). Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Tom Carper (D-DE) have introduced the bill in the Senate.