National Guard Departs Capitol Amid Feud Over Needs and Funding

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National Guard personnel who were deployed Jan. 6 to help beat back a crowd of about 10,000 rioters who had besieged the building, clear out the approximately 800 who had broken inside, and later provide security around the U.S. Capitol grounds will fully depart this week, reports the Washington Post. Though their mission formally ended Sunday, about 1,700 troops from nine states and Washington, D.C., remain in the District pending departures scheduled through Wednesday, according to Air Force Capt. Chelsi Johnson, a D.C. Guard spokesperson. Numbering nearly 26,000 leading up to the inauguration of President Biden, by the start of spring the Guards’ numbers fell to about 5,000 and has continued to dwindle as the threat of further violence has abated. In recent weeks, the Guard’s prolonged presence has also become a flashpoint of partisan contention as lawmakers argued about the costs of maintaining such a force and whether the protracted armed lockdown of the Capitol campus remains necessary.

While signaling the Guard’s departure, retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who was tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lead a security review of the Capitol grounds, also recommended several investments in the Capitol Police, including adding 854 positions to help the force better process intelligence and build specialized expertise in riot control. Those recommendations have been included in a $1.9 billion emergency security spending bill that last week passed the House, despite hard resistance from Republicans and some Democrats. The legislation commits nearly $800 million to hardening the Capitol by reinforcing doors and windows, adding security checkpoints and equipping Capitol Police officers with the weapons and training they need to guard the complex and its members from threats, in Washington and in their home districts. It also dedicates over a half-billion dollars toward covering accrued expenses of the National Guard’s deployment.

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