Cicilline Bill Will Limit Trump’s Insurrection Act Powers

Monday, June 8, 2020

PAWTUCKET – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) is introducing new legislation today that will place needed limits on President Trump’s authority to deploy the United States Armed Forces against American citizens who are protesting police brutality. CBS News has reported that Trump attempted to deploy 10,000 troops into American communities last week.


“President Trump may enjoy the company of dictators, but we live in a democracy. This is not North Korea, and the commander-in-chief cannot order the military to attack peaceful protesters,” said Cicilline. “Last week, however, we came dangerously close to this happening. Congress has a responsibility to rein in Donald Trump. The Stop Using Military Force Against Civilians Act will make much-needed reforms to prevent him from abusing his military authority to silence peaceful protesters who disagree with him.”


President Trump’s desire to deploy thousands of American troops into communities came following days of public protests over the police-involved deaths of George Floyd and other unarmed African Americans. The President was reportedly angry over media reports that he had gone to a secure bunker during the protests outside the White House gates. Later in the day, Attorney General William Barr gave the order to forcibly clear protesters using tear gas, flashbangs, and rubber munitions from a park across from the White House so the President could hold a Bible for a photo op. The stunt was reportedly an alternative “more personal way of demonstrating toughness” than deploying 10,000 troops.


Under the Insurrection Act, federal troops may be used to quell rebellions in states and to enforce federal laws. The measure was invoked by President John F. Kennedy to desegregate public schools in the Deep South. In recent days, Trump’s allies in Congress have proposed expanding the use of the law to go after peaceful protesters.


Cicilline’s proposal will place reasonable, necessary limits on the President’s power, specifically:


•            Limiting the initial time in which Armed Forces may be deployed to states to a period of 72 hours.

•            Requiring Congress to provide authorization for Armed Forces to remain deployed to states after that 72-hour period has passed.

•            Limiting the time Congress may authorize Armed Forces to be deployed to states to 14 days, with the ability for a one-time reauthorization of an additional 14 days.

•            Ensuring that U.S. states and territories, including the District of Columbia, are treated equally under the provisions of the Insurrection Act.

•            Stating that it is the sense of Congress that the Insurrection Act is not intended to quell peaceful protest protected by the Constitution, and using it to do so would be against the law.


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