National Guard presence on Capitol Hill sparks bipartisan calls for answers

A member of the National Guard walks a security perimeter surrounding the US Capitol building on Capitol Hill on March 4, 2021, in Washington, DC. - The grounds of the US Capitol were ringed with boosted security Thursday after officials warned of an attack plot by QAnon conspiracists, two months after backers of ex-president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A member of the National Guard walks a security perimeter surrounding the US Capitol building on Capitol Hill on March 4, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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UPDATED 7:40 PM PT – Thursday, March 4, 2021

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) is among several members of Congress who are demanding answers on increased security measures at the Capitol. What was supposed to be a temporary stay of National Guard troops and other reinforcements after January 6 seems to be more permanent.

Republicans have called for the razor wire fencing and troop presence to come down if no credible and imminent threat of violence exists. Waltz said he has repeatedly requested the intelligence briefings that continually get cited, but are never shown.

“All I get back is, ‘well, there is online chatter,’” Waltz stated. “But there is no specific threat — that I am aware of that I have seen…or any other member of Congress that I’ve talked to has seen — that requires more soldiers than we have in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.”

Congressman Waltz said the troops are needed back in their states to help with COVID vaccine distribution and to be with their families. However, Democrat leadership said National Guard troops should stay as long as necessary while a review of Capitol security wraps up.

At least one Democrat lawmaker and former CIA analyst Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) joined GOP calls for a congressional briefing on the matter.

Waltz said this request is not unusual and is typically something that happens when certain criteria are met.

“If there is a threat that is so dire, again it requires a brigade of troops to defend our Capitol,” Waltz noted. “Then not only should lawmakers know about it, the American people should know about it.”

If the Pentagon does grant a 60-day extension for the National Guard past March 12, the expense will fall on taxpayers. Additionally, the Defense Department’s estimated cost of $500 million to keep National Guard troops at the Capitol through mid-March would likely surge into the billions.

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