Reps. Omar, Jayapal, Pocan, Escobar, Introduce Bill to Restrict the President’s Ability to Use Military Forces Domestically

June 8, 2020
Press Release
Companion to Sen. Richard Blumenthal Legislation

WASHINGTON—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Veronica Escobar (D-TX) announced the introduction of the Curtailing Insurrection Act Violations of Individuals’ Liberties (CIVIL) Act today, a bill to severely restrict the President’s ability to use military forces in American cities without explicit Congressional approval. The bill is a companion measure to legislation authored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened military action on civilians participating in protests across the country. The bill would require the President to consult with Congress prior to invoking the Insurrection Act, and give Congress substantial oversight by sunsetting any invocation after fourteen days rights unless Congress has approved military action. It would also add extra layers of civil protections, establish expedited procedures for judicial review, and require joint certification from the President, Secretary of Defense, and Attorney General. Additionally, it prohibits active duty troops from participating in search, seizure, arrests, or other law enforcement activities unless expressly authorized by law.

“President Trump has threatened to use a slavery-era law to silence calls for justice from thousands of Americans protesting centuries of racist oppression,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “I support demonstrators’ demands for change and the constitutional rights of all Americans to seek it. President Trump’s threats to ‘dominate’ protestors with military might are a clear and present danger to our most fundamental constitutional rights. I’m glad to be joined by my colleagues in the House proposing urgently necessary reforms to impose oversight and accountability to the President’s broad, virtually unrestricted power. If the President uses military force against Americans at home, Congress should demand at least the same checks that apply to his use of force against adversaries abroad.” 

“As thousands across the country protest systemic racism in our country, this President has repeatedly compromised our democracy by threatening an escalation of violence on protesters across the country,” said Rep. Omar. “Previously, the Insurrection Act has been used to crush slave rebellions and suppress labor organizing. Now, the President is using to justify military action against people protesting their rights. We must stop him from having unilateral power to declare protesters a threat to society.” 

“The president shouldn’t have the power to deploy the military simply because he doesn’t like people standing up to and speaking out against the racism and white supremacy he so often aligns himself with,” said Rep. Jayapal. “Congress must not only hold this president accountable but we must protect the constitutional rights of people as they powerfully protest injustice in communities across this country.”

“If the President has to come to Congress to go to war abroad, then he should have to come to Congress before he unilaterally declares war on the American people,” said Rep. Pocan. “This president has attempted to use this nation’s rightful rage around continued racial injustice as an excuse to make an authoritarian power-grab. America doesn’t need a want-to-be dictator. The people of this country have the right to protest and demand justice, and Congress has a duty to put a check on the Oval Office.”

“Our military’s mission is to support and defend the Constitution,” said Rep. Escobar. “Unfortunately, as peaceful protestors took to the streets to speak out against racial injustice and police brutality, President Trump politicized our military forces and threatened to use them to violate Americans’ First Amendment right of free speech. This is unacceptable. Congress must act now to restrict the President’s unchecked power and provide the accountability our nation deserves.”

The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL), André Carson (D-IN) , Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Deb Haaland (D-MN) in the House. 

You can read the full bill text here and find more details on the bill here.

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