Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby declared on Wednesday that thousands of National Guard troops who were deployed to protect the US Capitol after the violent insurrection will be heading back home this weekend, as their mission is expected to wrap up by May 23.
“We have received no request to extend [the stay of troops in the nation’s capital],” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.
There were about 5,200 National Guard troops deployed around the White House after the Capitol uproar on January 6. As of Wednesday, the number of National Guards has dropped to 2,149.
In March, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request from the US Capitol Police to extend the National Guard mission from March to May 23. In the approval, it underscored concerns about the ongoing threat of violence after rioters breached the building in violence that left five people dead.
The decision proved controversial, as many lawmakers have criticized congressional leaders for the length of the mission and questioned the fencing surrounding the Capitol.
The Capitol security measures were reviewed in a report released in March, and included suggestions such as creating a quick reactionary military force to assist Capitol Police. Such measures would involve installing retractable fencing, as well as establishing a new federal agency to coordinate the region's law enforcement during emergencies, similar to how the Department of Homeland Security operates.
Earlier this week, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and other lawmakers within the US House of Representatives proposed $531 million to cover the ongoing cost of the guard's deployment to the Capitol, and another $200 million to mobilize a quick reactionary military force. Additionally, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Military mentioned the price tag for this year’s deployment as being $521 million.
On Wednesday, top Republicans on both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees turned down a proposal for a full-time National Guard quick-reaction force in the nation’s capital.
"We firmly oppose creating a DC National Guard quick reaction force," Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rogers, (R-AL) said in a joint statement, adding that any security improvements to the Capitol building and surrounding congressional offices would need to fall under civilian law enforcement officials, not military ones.
According to The Hill, the Department of Homeland Security has indicated that it wants the Pentagon to extend the deployment of about 4,000 National Guard troops working along the US-Mexico border past September 30.
Currently, National Guard members serve one weekend a month and are otherwise deployed when needed. Guard members have full-time civilian jobs and don't receive a child care benefit during their duty, unlike active-duty troops.