Almost five months after rushing to the Capitol during the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, the National Guard is reportedly set to depart Capitol grounds this week, according to the Washington Post.
In a statement issued Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin thanked the National Guard troops who have stood watch over the Capitol grounds for the last five months.
“These airmen and soldiers protected not only the grounds, but the lawmakers working on those grounds, ensuring the people’s business could continue unabated,” Austin said. “They lived out in very tangible ways the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also issued a statement on Monday expressing gratitude for the National Guard’s presence on Jan. 6, while also urging senators to push through the House-passed bill to establish a commission investigating the Capitol attacks.
“It is imperative that Congress continues to take action to honor the sacrifice of law enforcement and to protect the Capitol and ensure that an attack can never again be perpetrated against it,” Pelosi said. “Now that the House has passed bills to establish an independent bipartisan January 6th Commission and to fund additional security for the Capitol, the Senate must act. There is no time to waste or room for partisanship in keeping our Capitol and Country safe.”
Air Force Capt. Chelsi Johnson, a D.C. Guard spokesperson, told the Post that about 1,700 troops from nine states and Washington, D.C., remain in the District pending departures scheduled through Wednesday.
Lingering questions surrounding security failures before and during the Capitol insurrection remain, such as why it took the National Guard to be deployed more than three hours after supporters of then-President Trump stormed the Capitol. Trump incited the mob behind the Capitol attack when he told a crowd of his supporters during a “Stop the Steal” rally hours before the breach to “fight like hell” to overturn the election results on the day of the joint session of Congress ratifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Last week, the House passed a bill to establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol attack, with 35 Republicans crossing party lines to approve the measure. The bill, however, faces opposition in the Senate, where Republicans who previously signaled support for the commission’s formation have walked back their previous remarks.
Prior to the bill’s passage in the House, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) voiced their opposition to supporting the now-House-passed bill for the Jan. 6 commission. Although the proposed commission would be evenly split between both parties, McConnell and McCarthy complained that the bill was partisan.
Some Republican members of Congress have downplayed the violence of the insurrection that contributed to multiple deaths and endangered lawmakers’ lives.