Capitol Police has requested that the National Guard remain at the U.S. Capitol for an additional 60 days – two months – according to The Associated Press. The request comes amid heightened security concerns at the U.S. Capitol, including a possible plot by a militia group to invade the Capitol on Thursday, March 4.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) first said that she heard from contacts that "the U.S. Capitol Police have asked for a 60-day extension of the Guard’s mission in and around the Capitol, and that the Guard is soliciting states to send contributions."
"No one likes seeing the fortress-like security around the Capitol. And no one wants to again have a security problem in and around this symbolic place," Slotkin continued, adding: "We all have the same goal: to get back to the point where Capitol Police is capable of protecting us without the Guard’s help, and all parties feel confident we can protect the people’s business."
When asked about it a press conference Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that "the decisions about security are made by the security leadership here, and we’ll see what that ask is."
"The issue about the National Guard is one that will be made by the Capitol Police and the police board and the rest, but I’m not in a position to respond to that. But we should have them here as long as they are needed," Pelosi continued, adding: "We have to ensure with our security that we are safe enough to do our job, but not impeding."
Speaker Pelosi said they have "drafts" of security proposals, but protecting the Capitol properly will require more funding.
“It's going to take more money to protect the Capitol in a way that enables people to come here — children to come and see our democracy in action, all of you to cover what happens here safely, members to be comfortable that they are safe when they are here," Pelosi added.
The Speaker said she will review new security recommendations next week, adding that the challenge will be keeping the Capitol secure while also not making it feel like a fortress.
"We're ready for the task," she said.
March 4 is the date that coincides with a far-right conspiracy theory claiming that former President Donald Trump will be put back into office. March 4 was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. A far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, predicted that Trump will rise again to power that day.
The House of Representatives moved planned votes on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act from Thursday to Wednesday amid the threat and increased security. The Senate is still scheduled to convene to begin debating President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief package.
The current National Guard mission at the Capitol ends on March 12. There are over 5,000 troops currently stationed at the Capitol. Security measures at the Capitol have been tight since the deadly Jan. 6 riot by a mob of Trump supporters, which resulted in 5 people dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick.
"We want to understand what the plan is," Rep. Slotkin said. "None of us like looking at the fencing, the gates, the uniformed presence around the Capitol. We can’t depend on the National Guard for our security."
She said there has to be a plan that provides the needed security for the buildings and personnel by the Capitol Police and local law enforcement. Slotkin said it was telling that House members hastened to complete major votes Wednesday so they wouldn’t have to be in the building where many fled violent rioters in January. Lawmakers, she said, "don’t feel totally secure" in the Capitol.
U.S. Capitol Police officials have also told congressional leaders the razor-wire topped fencing around the Capitol should remain in place for several more months.
Slotkin said, however, that she was going to her office to work on Thursday: "I’m not going to let these guys scare me away."
Spectrum News' Ryan Chatelain and Austin Landis contributed to this report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.