National Guard Set to Leave Capitol Hill Nearly Five Months After Violent Insurrection

Members of the National Guard arrive at the U.S. Capitol days after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in Washington, January 11, 2021. REUTERS/Erin Scott

National Guard troops are slated to decamp from Capitol Hill this week, nearly five months after thousands were deployed to safeguard Congress amid fears of further unrest after the violent Jan. 6 insurrection.

The military presence has been a regular fixture for lawmakers and staff since mid-January, with troops scattered throughout the Capitol for high-profile events such as the impeachment of former President Donald Trump and the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Their exit comes as Capitol Police and other Hill security officials have raced to address shortcomings exposed by the riot — including through the installation of new leadership.

The departure of roughly 2,000 troops will return control of the complex back to the Capitol Police, which is now seeking a major expansion of its own capacity after its top brass faced criticism during the riot.

“These airmen and soldiers protected not only the grounds, but the lawmakers working on those grounds, ensuring the people’s business could continue unabated,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Monday.

For many lawmakers and aides, the Guard’s goodbye will be the latest sign of the Hill’s return to routine after months of stringent security measures, including a massive fence that still surrounds the Capitol grounds.

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SOURCE: Politico, Sarah Ferris

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