White House shuts down GOP calls to bring in National Guard for college protests

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The White House punted on Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) demand for President Biden to call in the National Guard to college campuses amid mass protests over the Israel-Hamas war on Thursday.

Johnson visited Columbia University on Wednesday, the first of major pro-Palestine protests that have spread to dozens of college campuses around the country, and said that Biden should call in the National Guard to quell the peaceful demonstrations.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the issue is not up to the president.

“That is something for the governors to decide,” she told reporters, noting that Biden has previously criticized the protests as antisemitic. 

Johnson went a step further Wednesday, calling the protests “dangerous.”

“If this is not contained quickly and if these threats and intimidation are not stopped, there is an appropriate time for the National Guard,” he said.

Student and faculty protests have urged the Biden administration to back a permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war and to stop supplying military aid to Israel, and they have advocated for their universities to divest from Israeli interests.

Hundreds of students and faculty have been arrested nationwide as some universities call on local and state police to violently disperse demonstrations.

Six months since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, a majority of Democrats say they believe the U.S. should limit military aid to Israel, according to polls, citing concerns about mass civilian casualties in Gaza and accusations of war crimes.

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