Fact Check: Does the Stimulus Bill Nullify the Insurrection Act?

The second coronavirus stimulus bill was finally approved by lawmakers this week after months of wrangling. The legislation earmarks $900 billion to address the turmoil wrought by the pandemic, which so far has claimed nearly 323,000 lives in the U.S., and more than 1.7 million worldwide.

But the bill prompted bipartisan fury, including from President Donald Trump. Critics say $600 per person is not enough to support Americans through the biggest crisis in recent memory, and that it comes far too late; the first package was passed in March with no major additional support since.

Trump is among those demanding that the bill increase payments to $2,000 per person, supported by prominent lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. The president is threatening to veto the stimulus bill unless payments are increased, and called for money to be taken from America's foreign aid budget—agreed as part of a separate bill this week—to cover the cost.

The bill also has prompted fresh disinformation online, magnified by America's frenzied political environment as Trump serves his last weeks in office.

The president and many of his supporters are still promoting baseless conspiracy theories suggesting that President-Elect Joe Biden won last month's presidential election via widespread electoral fraud. There is no evidence to support the assertion.

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." pic.twitter.com/T1eTpiu6yF

— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) December 22, 2020

The Claim

Soon after the stimulus bill was passed, claims began appearing online suggesting that the legislation—which Trump said he would veto—included a measure to stop the president from invoking the Insurrection Act. This power allows the commander-in-chief to deploy military and federalized National Guard troops within the U.S. to maintain order.

Right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists are urging Trump to use the act to re-run the election and prevent Biden's inauguration.

The claim centers on a screenshot detailing a proposed amendment to HR 6395—the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2021 fiscal year—approved by the House of Representatives in June. The amendment changed the Insurrection Act to require a president to make certifications to Congress in order to deploy active-duty military during civil unrest.

Among those sharing the screenshot was Chuck Callesto, an unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate for Florida who has shared right-wing disinformation in the past.

Social media entrepreneur Mike Coudrey also shared the misleading image and called on the president to veto the legislation.

Coudrey later realized his mistake and posted another tweeting explaining: "This was a secret provision added to the National Defense Authorization Act, not stimulus bill." There was nothing secret about the amendment, which was passed with a majority Democratic but also one Republican vote.

The act was presented to the president on December 11 but has not yet been signed into law.

The Facts

The screenshot was low quality, making it difficult to see the details of the vote. On closer inspection, it is clear that the amendment was approved by the House in June. It passed 215 to 190.

Washington Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler was the only GOP member to vote with the Democrats. Twenty four representatives—four Democrats and 20 Republicans—did not vote. The 190 opposed included 14 Democrats.

The Ruling

False.

There is no mention of the Insurrection Act in the second COVID-19 stimulus bill. There is no connection between the bill or the president's ability to deploy the military inside U.S. borders.

The stimulus bill approved this week is 5,593 pages long. There is no mention of the Insurrection Act. This is false information, apparently being spread online by Trump-supporting accounts with a history of sharing misleading information and conspiracy theories.

National guard troops election coronavirus stimulus bill
National Guard soldiers patrol the streets of Philadelphia on November 4, 2020, the morning after Americans voted in the presidential election. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/Getty