Fact Check: The Stimulus Bill Does NOT Strip President Trump Of His Insurrection Act Authority

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: The Stimulus Bill Does NOT Strip President Trump Of His Insurrection Act Authority Wrong Info

Does the stimulus bill passed December 21, 2020 by Congress strip President Donald J. Trump of his Insurrection Act authority? No, that's not true: The claim is based on a House of Representatives amendment from July 2020 to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, which did not make it into the final version of that legislation. Nowhere in the "stimulus bill" is anything written about the Insurrection Act. The claim that Trump is "stripped" of his powers to invoke the Insurrection Act is false.

The claim appeared as a post (archived here) where it was published by The Hip Hop Patriot account on Facebook on December 22, 2020. It opened:

BREAKING! This is hidden on the Stimulus bill! It strips President Donald J. Trump of his Insurrection Act authority!

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Dec 23 18:32:44 2020 UTC)

The 5,593-page Consolidated Appropriations Act, which includes measures to stimulate economic activity stilled by the COVID-19 pandemic and to give citizens economic relief, does not contain any language about the Insurrection Act. The official online copy is searchable and Lead Stories found no reference in it to the Insurrection Act.

The Facebook post incorrectly cited a tweet about the language being "hidden" in the stimulus bill.

Chuck Callesto, who says in his Twitter bio that he is a political strategist and a former candidate for Florida's 3rd Congressional District, first tweeted then deleted a message that read:

BREAKING REPORT: HIDDEN in the 5,893 page bill that @realDonaldTrump is anticipated to VETO is a provision that says "Nullifies the President's use of the Insurrection Act."

That was then saved and posted on the Hip Hop Patriot Facebook page:

ATTENTION! Lin Wood got the message!!! Whether he answered messages sent to him or watched the show tonight, he posted...

Posted by HERE WE GO on Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Callesto used a graphic from GovTrack.com, a website that states it publishes "the status of federal legislation, information about your representative and senators in Congress including voting records, and original research on legislation." The graphic showed the language of the still-born House Amendment 833 from July 2020.

Screen Shot 2020-12-23 at 1.41.04 PM.png

Pro-Trump attorney L. Lin Wood retweeted the message and added his own message warning about the contents of the spending bill approved by Congress Dec. 21, 2020.

Callesto's tweet implied a direct quote of "nullifies the President's use of the Insurrection Act," but that language does not appear anywhere in the stimulus bill -- nor in the full text of the NDAA.

The Insurrection Act, enacted in 1807 and amended several times since then, gives the president the authority to use the military to suppress insurrection, as NPR reported in June 2020. Here is the wording of that law.

An Act authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces of the United States, in cases of insurrections

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States, or of any individual state or territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be lawful for him to employ, for the same purposes, such part of the land or naval force of the United States, as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the pre-requisites of the law in that respect.
APPROVED, March 3, 1807.

House Amendment 833 passed in the Democrat-controlled House by a vote of 215-190 in July 2020 and would have required a president to present "certifications to Congress," before invoking the Insurrection Act. It did not "strip" the president of the ability to invoke the Insurrection Act.

It's unclear what happened in the Republican-controlled Senate, but the amendment did not end up in the final language of the Defense Authorization Act, which went through lengthy negotiations before it was adopted.

The Hill reported that the language from the House Amendment was not included in the NDAA bill in July.

The compromise jettisoned some rebukes of Trump, including House-passed language to restrict a president's Insurrection Act powers and block funding for a nuclear test."

Even if the amendment had survived, President Trump vetoed the NDAA bill on December 23, 2020.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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