Price tag of ongoing National Guard presence in D.C. up to $500 million: report
The deployment of National Guard troops in the nation’s capital through mid-March is costing roughly $500 million, The Hill reported Thursday evening.
This price tag, a defense official confirmed to the publication, surpasses the at least $480 million that Bloomberg first reported Thursday afternoon.
The defense official did not have a more detailed breakdown of the costs, according to The Hill, with the costs not including those taken on by the city.
Following a violent mob storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, roughly 26,000 National Guardsmen from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories flooded the city and established high-security zones around vital locations in the heart of D.C.
Fearing similar attacks on or surrounding the date of President Joe Biden‘s January 20 inauguration, such zones included the Capitol Complex, National Mall, and massive swaths of downtown D.C. with armed guards, barricades, and razor-tipped fences.
However, around 5,000 troops are set to remain stationed at the Capitol until at least the middle of next month, at the request of Capitol Police and in accordance with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bulletin warning that after inauguration the threats still linger.
“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 reads.
The Pentagon, it should be noted, has not gone into detail about the specific threats which spurred them to rubber-stamp the request.
One of the upcoming events in D.C. that people believe could be subject to threats is former President Donald Trump‘s Senate impeachment trial, which is set to commence on Tuesday. According to The Hill, believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are falsely claiming that Trump will be sworn in again on March 4, the original date of presidential inaugurations before the 20th Amendment in 1933 shifted it to January 20.
However, some Republican politicians have expressed scrutiny over the ongoing presence of troops in D.C.
“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,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote in a Fox News opinion piece last week. “Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs.”
After 11 Republicans headed by Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) last week penned a letter to acting Army Secretary John Whitley asking for a briefing regarding intelligence on threats to the Capitol Complex, Whitley and Waltz spoke on the phone Tuesday. However, the phone call did not satisfy Waltz.
“I appreciate the call from Secretary Whitley and believe the Army must push Congress and the FBI for more clarity as what specific threat requires the Army to have a larger presence on Capitol Hill than we have in Afghanistan and Iraq combined,” Waltz said in a statement afterward.
“In the past year, COVID-19, social unrest, natural disasters and war zone requirements have repeatedly pulled the Guard from their jobs and families, causing tremendous stress on the force,” he said. “Lawmakers continue to be left in the dark on actual threat assessments and a long-term strategy. I hope we will have a briefing for lawmakers scheduled in the near future.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.