House Armed Services Leadership Calls for ‘Measured Drawdown’ of National Guard Troops From Capitol

March 11, 2021 Updated: March 11, 2021

The House Armed Services Committee leadership called for a review of the security level required at the U.S. Capitol and said that the current security posture is “not warranted at this time.”

The chairman and ranking member of the committee, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), issued a joint statement calling for a security review after the Pentagon announced that a reduced number of National Guard troops will remain at the Capitol for an additional 60 days, through May 23.

“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 lawmakers said in a statement.

“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,” the two House members added. “However, the present security posture is not warranted at this time.”

They want a “measured drawdown” of the Guard deployment.

“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 number of troops will be about half of the 5,100 to 5,200 currently patrolling the site, the Pentagon had announced. Prior to the extension they had been scheduled to leave on the weekend.

National Guard members were deployed after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, and more than 20,000 were on hand during the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden. Officials also set up a non-scalable fence topped with razor wire around the Capitol facility.

On Jan. 6, the Capitol building was breached as congressional proceedings were underway to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. The violence occurred amid otherwise peaceful protests that were taking place in surrounding areas, calling for election integrity.

Smith had accused then-President Donald Trump of having incited and encouraged the breach.

Trump in the week after Jan. 6 had repeatedly called for peace and repeatedly condemned the violence that took place that day.

“The incursion of the U.S. Capitol struck at the very heart of our republic. It angered and appalled millions of Americans across the political spectrum,” Trump said on Jan. 13. “I want to be very clear, I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement.”

The unrest on the Capitol grounds included the shooting death by Capitol Police of a woman who was part of the groups of people who entered the Capitol and clashed with police. Three other protesters reportedly died from medical conditions. Meanwhile, a U.S. Capitol Police officer who had protected lawmakers during the riot was confirmed dead by the department on Jan. 7. The FBI “cannot disclose the cause of death,” the agency’s director, Christopher Wray, said on March 2.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy