“These airmen and soldiers protected not only the land, but also the lawmakers working on it, ensuring that the affairs of the people could continue unabated,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement on Monday.
For many lawmakers and aides, the Guard’s farewell will be the last sign of the Hill returning to routine after months of strict security measures, including a massive fence that still surrounds the Capitol grounds.
The Guard had gradually reduced its forces over months: By January, around 26,000 troops had converged on the Capitol as authorities identified new threats of violence in the wake of the riot. By March, that number had fallen to around 5,000 soldiers.
A National Guard spokesperson did not return a request for comment on the specific details of the departure. The Associated Press first reported that the Guard troops had formalized their departures from Monday.
Some high-level lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, say the pullout is long overdue, warning that the prolonged presence of troops would come at high costs, both financially and in terms of national readiness. Still, Guard personnel will leave Washington, DC, amid a political dispute over the future of the Capitol’s defenses, with big questions about how to better protect the complex – including equipping its force of police – no solution.
House Democrats passed an estimated $ 1.9 billion emergency fundraising bill last week to bolster Capitol Hill security, including tens of millions of dollars to help Capitol Police in stimulate recruitment, training and other support services. The National Guard would also receive half a billion dollars for “unforeseen compensation” and operating costs for their deployment from Jan.6 to May 23.
But no House Republican backed the bill, with some arguing that it contains foreign provisions. GOP Senate leaders have not indicated that they will support him either.
“The Senate must act,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Monday, calling on the GOP to support the Security Funding Bill and a separate commission to investigate the events of January 6. . “There is no time to waste nor room for partisanship to ensure the security of our Capitol and our country.
Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, who was tasked with a Capitol Security Review earlier this year, also urged Republicans to support the fundraising bill.
Honoré warned senators that “the more they think, the less secure the Capitol will be” and noted that lawmakers must pay both National Guard and Capitol Police officers after months of overtime.
“It’s just logistics,” Honoré told “Face The Nation” on Sunday. “It has to be paid for.”