FILE PHOTO: Uniformed military personnel walks into the secured White House area ahead of a protest against racial inequality in reaction to the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S., June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said on Thursday it had approved an amendment that would make it illegal to deploy the military against peaceful protesters, amid a national uproar over the harsh response to demonstrations over the deaths of African Americans in the hands of police.
Committee leaders told a news conference the panel had approved an amendment introduced by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, saying the military should not be used against a lawful assembly by U.S. citizens.
Trump had threatened to deploy the armed forces after clashes between police and protesters and looting in some cities.
Kaine introduced the amendment after days of demonstrations, mostly peaceful, across the United States and internationally, over the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 as a white Minneapolis policeman kneeled on his neck.
The NDAA, which determines how the Pentagon spends its money – this year $740 billion – is one of the few pieces of major legislation that passes every year. The bill governs everything from soldiers’ pay rates to how many fighter jets are bought to which bases are closed.
Since it is seen as “must-pass” legislation, members of Congress also typically use the NDAA as a vehicle for a wide range of policy matters.
However, the legislation announced on Thursday is several steps from becoming law.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis