- The Washington Times
Thursday, March 11, 2021

The leaders of the House Armed Services Committee are questioning the decision by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to extend the National Guard deployment at the U.S. Capitol for two more months.

Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington, and Mike Rogers, the top Republican from Alabama, are both calling for a “measured drawdown” of the National Guard troops. 

“We are deeply troubled by the current level of security around the United States Capitol. More than two months after the January 6 attack, the seat of our nation’s democracy remains heavily protected by guardsmen and surrounded by a perimeter fence,” the two said in a joint statement.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday approved the extension that will keep nearly 2,300 National Guard troops on duty until May 23. Guard members have been at the Capitol Building since Jan. 6, 2021, when thousands of pro-Trump supporters forced their way into the complex.

More than 25,000 Guardsmen were on hand during the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden. About 5,000 troops remain on duty.

The current deployment was to have concluded on March 12, 2021.

“As the U.S. Capitol Police continues to build its personnel capacity, there is no doubt that some level of support from the National Guard should remain in the National Capital Region to respond to credible threats against the Capitol,” Rep. Smith and Rep. Rogers wrote. “However, the present security posture is not warranted at this time.”

Leaders in Washington shouldn’t ignore the financial costs associated with the prolonged deployment and what impact it might have on their overall readiness, they wrote.

“We appreciate our Guardsmen answering the call to protect the Capitol, but it’s time for us to review what level of security is required so they can return home to their families and communities,” the lawmakers wrote.

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