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The presence of National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., is racking up a hefty bill of $500 million as threats reportedly require them to remain into early spring.
The estimate exceeds even the $480 million Bloomberg projected Thursday, according to an official who confirmed the number to The Hill, and does not include the costs incurred by the city.
Approximately 26,000 guardsmen from all 50 states, as well as three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, descended on the capital in the wake of the unrest on Jan. 6, locking down the sensitive areas around the Capitol building, National Mall, and large portions of downtown with police barricades and razor-topped fences.
Troop numbers have decreased to around 7,000 since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, with about 5,000 planning to remain until at least mid-March, in accordance with a Department of Homeland Security bulletin that warns threats remain even after the inauguration.
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said.
Among the upcoming dates viewed as potentially sparking trouble are former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, which begins on Feb. 9, and the original Inauguration Day on March 4, when some diehard conspiracy theorists reportedly believe Trump will be sworn in again as president.
Some Republican lawmakers are unhappy with the continued presence of guardsmen in the capital, such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who wrote in a Fox News op-ed: “I sit on the Intelligence Committee, but I’m aware of no specific, credible threat reporting — as distinguished from aspirational, uncoordinated bluster on the internet — that justifies this continued troop presence. Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs.”
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman disagrees, suggesting that imposing barriers and “back-up” security forces around the Capitol should remain “permanent.” As The Daily Wire reported:
Officials in the nation’s capital are facing backlash after they called for “permanent fencing” to go up around the U.S. Capitol Building in response to the riot that broke out earlier this month.
Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said on Thursday that she had ordered the department to “conduct a physical security assessment of the entire Capitol Complex,” which led her to the conclusion that the fencing, which was supposed to be temporary, needed to be made permanent.
“As I noted earlier this week, even before September 11, 2001, security experts argued that more needed to be done to protect the U.S. Capitol,” she wrote. “In fact, a 2006 security assessment specifically recommended the installation of a permanent perimeter fence around the Capitol.”
“In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” she continued. “I look forward to working with Congress on identifying the security improvements necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Congress and the U.S. Capitol.”