- National Guard troops deployed at the Capitol since January are to leave Monday
- More than 2,000 troops are packing up and leaving the Capitol more than four months after a mob of angry Trump supporters stormed the building
- National Guards troops from around the country were initially assigned to D.C. to help bolster security for President Biden’s inauguration
- Initially a March 12 deadline was put in place but later extended until May 23
- The deployment was not without teething troubles with occasional bad food and troops forced to sleep on the floor of a parking garage during the early days
- Last week, the House approved a $1.9 billion measure to fortify the Capitol
Nearly five months after being deployed to the U.S. Capitol to help quell the January 6 insurrection, National Guard troops are set to leave and turn over security of the area to Capitol Police.
Guard troops, their mission ending Sunday, are expected to be leaving on Monday.
The Pentagon announced earlier in the week that an extension of the Guard presence – 2,149 troops – had not been requested.
The planned departure came as Democrats and Republicans sparred over how to fund fortifications of the Capitol and whether to form an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the attack that sought to overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Some Republican lawmakers have begun downplaying the event despite the handful of deaths, injuries to scores of police officers, hundreds of arrests, damages to the building and shouted threats against lawmakers from many of those who stormed the building.
Much of the violence was caught on camera.
Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who oversaw a security review in the wake of the rioting, told CBS´ ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday that the Capitol itself will be secured by Capitol Police but that the complex will remain closed to the general public because of the strain on the police force.
‘God bless the National Guard,’ Honore said. ‘They’ve done significant work.’
Though razor-wire-topped fencing that stood as a stark reminder of the siege has been removed, an extended perimeter fence remains in place, cutting off access to the lush grounds popular with the public.
At its height, there were about 5,200 National Guard troops protecting the Capitol and the mission had already once been extended from March to May 23.
It has been far from plain sailing for the troops. At some point soldiers were forced to sleep on the floor of the Capitol and even in the complex’s parking garage
In March, the troops’ meals came under scrutiny with members complaining they were forced to eat raw chicken and moldy bread.
More than a dozen soldiers on deployment have became ill – with some serious enough to be hospitalized – after reportedly being given undercooked and contaminated food.
Aside from the poor – and sometimes dangerous – quality, troops were not being given enough food, with breakfast some days consisting of just a dinner roll and Sunny D ahead of a 12-hour shift.
Aside from the issues with the quality of food in March, in January shocking photos showed thousands of Guardsmen forced to sleep on the floor of the packed Thurgood Marshall Building parking garage and in a park outside.
Images showed troops packed inside parking garages during their rest breaks with one unit of around 5,000 forced to sleep in one garage with just one bathroom between all of them.
Before being located to the parking lot, the troops had been allowed to take rest breaks inside the Capitol building.
The soldiers do have hotel rooms but their 12 hour shift pattern means they cannot easily return to their rooms during rest breaks.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 300 people for involvement in the attack that led to five deaths, including a police officer. Those arrested include members of armed militia groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.
Last month, a motorist rammed a car into U.S. Capitol police, killing one officer and injuring another and forcing the Capitol complex to lock down.
The House on Thursday approved – by a single vote largely along party lines – a $1.9 billion measure to fortify the Capitol.
The next day the House approved with 35 Republican votes the formation of an investigative commission. Both measures face an uncertain future in the evenly divided Senate.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he opposes the commission proposal, which would need significant Republican support to advance under Senate rules.
Republican opponents say the commission would become a political tool as midterms elections approach, though the proposal requires its work to be concluded by the end of this year.