The United States Capitol Police Department has reportedly requested an extension of the National Guard presence around the Capitol building for the next sixty days.
According to The Associated Press, which first reported on the development citing officials at the Department of Defense, reported that Pentagon officials are currently reviewing the request, and the National Guard has been checking the availability of guard members in various states to volunteer for the job. The Washington Post, which subsequently cited two Pentagon sources on the condition of anonymity, reports that Department of Defense Secretary Loyd Austin will review the request.
Rep. Elise Slotkin (D-MI), a former Department of Defense official-turned Michigan congresswoman, tweeted on Thursday that she had been hearing from National Guard contacts that the Capitol Police had requested an extension of the guard presence, suggesting that not all members of Congress were aware of the reported developments.
“No one likes seeing the fortress-like security around the Capitol. And no one wants to again have a security problem in and around this symbolic place. But whether an extension has been requested or the mission is indeed terminating on March 12, it’s critical that members of Congress get a briefing on what’s behind these decisions.”
Since the Capitol riot, the National Guard has been present in Washington, D.C., in various capacities, particularly during President Joe Biden’s inauguration, when a reported 25,000 of them were stationed in D.C.
In an unusual statement Wednesday afternoon, Capitol Police announced that they had “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group” on Thursday, and were “prepared” for any potential threats.
“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,” said Capitol Police in the statement. “Our department is working with our local, state and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time.”
It’s unclear whether the department’s statement is related to the purported national guard request.
While the House of Representatives re-scheduled a session to be held Thursday amidst the security warning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) downplayed the significance of the change and suggested it was designed to accommodate a GOP meeting in the afternoon.
“It was really just a convenience,” said Pelosi, later adding: “I don’t think anybody should take any encouragement that because some trouble-makers might show up that we changed our whole schedule. No, we just moved it a few hours, and it largely will accommodate the Republicans going to their own session.”
Pelosi declined to share whether she believed it was necessary for the national guard to stay an additional two months, saying such decisions should be made by security leadership, such as the Capitol Police and the police board. “We have to have what we need, when we need it, and in the numbers that we need it, but that’s a security decision,” she said.
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