Extension of troop deployment at Capitol ‘not warranted,’ House Armed Services Committee bipartisan leaders say

U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 12: Members of the U.S. National Guard arrive at the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Pentagon is deploying as many as 15,000 National Guard troops to protect President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, amid fears of new violence. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — One day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced an extension of the National Guard deployment at the U.S. Capitol for about two more months, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Armed Services Committee called for reduction of troops.

In a jointly released statement, Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) and Ranking Member Rep. Mike Rodgers (R-Ala) said they were ‘deeply troubled’ by the current level of security and impacts it has on overall National Guard readiness.

“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. However, the present security posture is not warranted at this time,” said Smith and Rodgers.

There are currently about 5,100 Guard troops in Washington, and they were scheduled to leave March 12th. It was unclear if any of those forces will have to stay an extra day or two while any new troops arrive and get trained and settled in.

The defense department approved Wednesday for close to 2,300 troops to continue providing security until May 23rd at the request of the Capitol Police.

The Pentagon said defense officials will work with the Capitol Police to incrementally reduce the number of Guard needed in the city as time goes on.

The request to extend the deployment met resistance last week, as some governors expressed reluctance or flatly refused to commit their troops to more time in the city. There now appear to be enough states willing to provide Guard troops for the mission, said defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

U.S. military officials have said the cost of deploying about 26,000 Guard troops to the U.S. Capitol from shortly after the Jan. 6 riot to this Friday is close to $500 million. No cost estimate for the next two months has been released. The costs include housing, transportation, salaries, benefits and other essentials.

Read the full statement from the House Armed Services Committee below:

“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.

“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. However, the present security posture is not warranted at this time.

“In addition, we cannot ignore the financial costs associated with this prolonged deployment, nor can we turn a blind eye to the effects it will soon have on the National Guard’s overall readiness. 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 Associated Press contributed to this report

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