The National Guard’s monthslong deployment at the U.S. Capitol is projected to cost $521 million through May, the Defense Department said Thursday.
The new estimate comes as some lawmakers have said they are troubled by the continued presence of the National Guard because it has created a fortresslike appearance around the Capitol. Following the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, the area has been surrounded by military personnel and security fencing.
Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved extending the Guard’s presence in Washington through May 23, after a request from the U.S. Capitol Police. The mission previously had been slated to end Friday.
The extension will add $111 million to the cost of the mission, covering from March to May, said Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a National Guard spokesman. That is on top of an estimated $410 million in costs for the mission from January to March, Col. Carver said.
He said the $410 million is lower than defense officials originally had estimated for those months. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday that the Defense Department will fund the operation.
After Friday, nearly 2,300 Guard members will remain in Washington as part of the extension. Defense officials said they plan to incrementally reduce the Guard’s footprint as conditions allow.
Roughly 26,000 Guard members from across the country were deployed to Washington to secure the city for the Jan. 20 inauguration. Since then, their presence has been gradually reduced.
Also Thursday, the top Democrat and Republican on the House Armed Services Committee called for reducing the Guard’s presence at the Capitol, citing concerns about the financial costs and strain on the Guard.
“We appreciate our guardsmen answering the call to protect the Capitol, but it’s time for us to review what level of security is required, so they can return home to their families and communities,” Rep. Adam Smith (D., Wash.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.) said in a joint statement.
They added that some level of support from the Guard should remain.
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Appeared in the March 12, 2021, print edition as ‘National Guard’s Capitol Presence After Riot to Cost $521 Million.’