Even as Capitol Incursion 2.0 — bruited about in liberal circles to be an expected deluge of Trump supporters upon Washington to mark the once-traditional day presidents were inaugurated — turned out to be all talk and no action, the Capitol police are asking the National Guard to remain in Washington.
In theory, the 5,200-person Guard contingent that remains of the troops that once numbered 25,000 is scheduled to pack up on March 12, ending a deployment that has cost almost $500 million. The troops were called to Washington to protect the inauguration of President Joe Biden, but as weeks passed with no threats in sight, the numbers were reduced to the current level.
There were fears of violence on Thursday, leading the House to cancel its work for the day, but there were no incidents. The Senate remained in session.
According to what Army and National Guard officials told Stars and Stripes last month, speculation has run rampant for weeks that Guard troops were to remain indefinitely.
Scuttlebutt became official Thursday as the Defense Department confirmed that the Capitol police want troops to remain.
“We have indeed received a request and DOD is currently considering request,” a defense official said, according to the Washington Examiner.
Last month, WTTG-TV reported meetings were being scheduled to discuss keeping Guard troops at the Capitol through the fall.
Citing sources it did not name, The Washington Post said Capitol police want the troops to remain through May. The Associated Press reported the request is for an additional 60 days and up to 2,200 troops.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser indicated she was not aware of the plan.
“It was our expectation that the additional forces would be leaving now,” she said to The Post. “We don’t know why additional forces have been requested until May … It was our expectation that the National Guard support would be lessened significantly around this time.”
Republican Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan questioned how Guard troops are being used.
Getting information from Capitol Police leadership has been like pulling teeth. Direct answers are hard to come by- I learn more from what’s leaked to media than in briefings. We cannot allow the National Guard to be used as a bandaid for a lack of USCP strategy/leadership. (2/2)
— Rep. Peter Meijer (@RepMeijer) March 4, 2021
“Getting information from Capitol Police leadership has been like pulling teeth,” he tweeted.
“Direct answers are hard to come by — I learn more from what’s leaked to media than in briefings. We cannot allow the National Guard to be used as a bandaid for a lack of USCP strategy/leadership,” he added.
Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan said the people being guarded ought to know what is going on.
“No one likes seeing the fortress-like security around the Capitol. And no one wants to again have a security problem in and around this symbolic place,” she said to The Post. “But whether an extension has been requested or the mission is indeed terminating on March 12, it’s critical that members of Congress get a briefing on what’s behind these decisions.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted she has not been making the decisions.
“The issue about the National Guard is one that will be made by the Capitol Police and the Police Board,” she said Thursday, according to the Examiner. “We should have them here as long as they are needed.”
However, CNN reported that a draft of a proposal from Pelosi’s hand-picked consultant reviewing Capitol security calls for the creation of an armed intervention force of National Guard members that would be based near Capitol Hill.
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