A 60-day extension to the National Guard’s deployment to the US Capitol is being reviewed by the Pentagon, the Associated Press has reported. Over 5,000 troops have been stationed there since January’s Capitol riot.
Capitol Police made the request for the 60-day extension to the National Guard’s deployment to Washington, DC within the last 36 hours, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) told the Associated Press on Thursday. The Guard is reportedly seeking volunteers to fill the post while waiting for the Pentagon’s approval.
Officers were said to be on high alert on Thursday regarding a “possible plot” by an unnamed militia group to storm the Capitol yet again. Intelligence agencies claimed the plans were linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which – with vanishingly few options left to convince its followers that Trump is still in the running – has claimed the ex-president will rise to power on March 4.
If the Pentagon does not agree to lengthen the deployment, all 5,000 of the Guard troops will be sent home on March 12. Some members of Congress are concerned about their safety going forward, Slotkin told the AP, acknowledging “we can’t depend on the National Guard for our security.”
While the shutdown of Thursday’s session was announced Wednesday, Slotkin claimed many House members had already deliberately rushed their timetables to hold major votes on Wednesday, fearing Thursday would bring a repeat of January 6.
That day saw a massive horde of Trump supporters allowed to enter the curiously-unsecured Capitol while members of Congress were voting to authorize President Joe Biden’s electoral win. While the chaotic demonstration has been described as an “armed insurrection” by many in both parties, a good deal more harm came to the Trump supporters than the Democrats – or even the smattering of Capitol Police who were on the scene. One pro-Trump protester was shot by a police officer, another was apparently trampled in the melee, and two more died of what were said to be natural causes; just one officer died of causes that are yet to be determined.
While “none of [Congress] like looking at the fencing, the gates, the uniformed presence around the Capitol,” according to Slotkin, the Capitol Police seem to have embraced the prison-camp look the building has taken on. The police urged congressional leaders to leave the razor-wire fencing surrounding the building in place for “several more months” – possibly until September due to “online chatter” by supposed extremists. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security called for a heightened threat of domestic terrorism through April, anticipating “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” upset over Biden’s presidency might“continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”