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Bipartisan Group Advocates for Changes to the Insurrection Act

Bob Bauer (Credits: CNN)

President Joe Biden‘s attorney, Bob Bauer, spearheads a bipartisan initiative to reform the Insurrection Act of 1807, reflecting growing concerns over the potential misuse of presidential power in deploying military forces during domestic unrest.

The group, co-led by Jack Goldsmith, a former assistant U.S. attorney general under George W. Bush, includes former senior national security and legal officials from Republican and Democratic administrations.

The Insurrection Act, which allows the president to deploy U.S. military and federalized National Guard troops to suppress domestic disturbances, has been invoked more than 30 times since its passage, most recently during the Los Angeles riots in 1992.

Joe Biden (Credits: Daily Citizen – Focus on the Family)

However, recent discussions about its potential invocation, particularly by former President Donald Trump during the 2020 protests following George Floyd’s killing, have highlighted the need for clearer guidelines and constraints.

The group has proposed several amendments to the act, ensuring it is used only as a last resort when local, state, and federal authorities cannot maintain public safety. These proposed reforms include:

  • Requiring a president to consult with the governor of a state before deploying troops.
  • The law mandates that the president report to Congress within 24 hours of deploying troops, detailing the reasons for the deployment and the consultations held with state authorities.
  • Limiting the duration of troop deployment under the act to 30 days unless Congress provides renewed authorization.
  • Establishing a fast-track procedure for Congress to vote on whether to renew the presidential authority under the act.

These recommendations aim to introduce more rigorous checks and balances, ensuring that military force within U.S. borders remains strictly controlled and transparent. Such reforms are essential to prevent potential abuses of power and maintain the integrity of civil governance in the face of national crises.

Bob Bauer, along with Jack Goldsmith, has previously been involved in similar reform efforts. The 2022 overhaul of the Electoral Count Act tightened the rules around electoral objections and clarified the vice president’s role in certifying election results.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden (Credits: PBS)

The proposed changes to the Insurrection Act appear to be in line with their ongoing work to strengthen the frameworks governing presidential powers and ensure they are exercised in a manner consistent with democratic principles.

The involvement of Republicans like Courtney Simmons Elwood and John Eisenberg, who have outstanding experience in national security and legal contexts, underscores the bipartisan nature of this initiative.

It reflects a shared recognition across political lines of the need to safeguard democratic institutions against overreach risks and ensure that presidential emergency powers are used judiciously and effectively.

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