National Guard to depart Capitol nearly 5 months after Jan. 6 riot

“These Airmen and soldiers not only protected the premises, but also the lawmakers who work on the premises to ensure that people’s business can continue unabated,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Monday.

For many lawmakers and aides, the guard’s departure is the latest sign of the hill’s return to routine after months of tight security, including a massive fence that still surrounds the Capitol grounds.

The Guard had been gradually reducing its armed forces for months: In January, around 26,000 soldiers had gathered at the Capitol when officials discovered further threats of violence after the uprising. By March that number had dropped to around 5,000 soldiers.

A National Guard spokesman did not return a request for comment on specific departure details. The Associated Press reported first that the Guard troops had formalized their departures, starting Monday.

Some top lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, say the drawdown is long overdue, warning that the expanded presence of the troops would be costly, both financially and in terms of national preparedness. Still, Guard personnel will be leaving Washington, DC amid a political battle over the future of the Capitol Defense, with major questions about how to better protect the complex – including the equipment of its police force – remain unresolved.

The House Democrats passed around $ 1.9 billion in emergency funding bill last week to bolster Capitol security, including tens of millions of dollars to help Capitol police in promoting recruitment, training and other support services to support. The National Guard would receive half a billion dollars from January 6 through May 23 for “unexpected pay” and operating expenses for its service.

But no Republicans in the House supported the bill, and some argued that it contained redundant provisions. The Senate GOP leaders have not indicated that they will support it.

“The Senate needs to act,” House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Monday, calling on the GOP to support the security finance bill and a separate commission to investigate the January 6 events and partisanship on the security of our Capitol our country. “

Retired Lieutenant General Russell Honoré, who was tasked with a Capitol security clearance earlier this year, also urged Republicans to support the finance bill.

Honoré warned senators that “the longer they think, the less secure the Capitol will be,” noting that after months of additional work, lawmakers will have to pay both the National Guard and Capitol cops.

“It’s just logistics,” Honoré said on Sunday to CBS’s “Face The Nation”. “That has to be paid for.”

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