Pentagon response to Capitol riot under scrutiny ahead of hearing
FOX News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram has the details on ‘The Story’
EXCLUSIVE: More than 30 Republican House lawmakers have signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for the removal of the fencing that was put up after last month’s Capitol riot, calling the measures “excessive” and questioning whether taxpayers will “be responsible” for the nearly $500 million expense of keeping a National Guard presence on Capitol Hill.
“We write to express our concern with the militarized fencing, excessive security infrastructure, and significant National Guard presence on the ground of the United States Capitol,” the Republicans, led by Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington, wrote to Pelosi Friday.
However, Pelosi does not control the fencing around the Capitol. It is under the jurisdiction of the Capitol Police Board, which consists of the House sergeant at arms, the Senate sergeant at arms, the architect of the Capitol and the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.
A spokesman for Pelosi noted that review of fencing is the role of the Capitol Police Board and referred Republican lawmakers’ questions to them.
The lawmakers pointed to the Pentagon’s recent announcement that National Guard troops would remain at the Capitol Complex through March 15, which “will cost $483 million.”
“In light of this staggering announcement, we are asking for a detailed justification for continued National Guard presence and clarity on whether taxpayers will be responsible for this nearly $500 million expenditure,” they wrote.
The lawmakers said that “while we appreciate the service of these brave men and women, we have questions about the continued necessity of a presence of this magnitude,” adding that the “barbed-wire fencing and barriers” around the Capitol are “posing logistical difficulties for staff and visitors, as well as preventing the American people from enjoying their nation’s Capitol.”
The heightened security measures came after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, which former security officials, who resigned in the wake of the attacks, said was a “coordinated attack” this week during congressional testimony.
“The events of January 6 were reprehensible, and we understand a temporary need for increased security,” the Republicans wrote but said “keeping thousands of troops in Washington indefinitely is fiscally irresponsible and sends the wrong message to our nation.”
“The American people do not have the luxury of calling in thousands of troops and spending millions of dollars to build barbed-wire fences around their homes when they feel vulnerable,” they wrote. “To indulge Members of Congress — particularly if it is at the taxpayers’ expense — with these excessive measures is insulting and un-American.”
Republican Reps. Jim Banks, Doug Lamborn, Ted Budd, Ronny Jackson, Jody Hice, Louie Gohmert, Beth Van Duyne, Tom McClintock, Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Vern Buchanan, Chip Roy, Glenn Grothman, Carol Miller, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Dan Bishop, Madison Cawthorn and Dan Crenshaw, among others, signed onto the letter.
Rioters had been around the Capitol for most of the day on Jan. 6 but breached the building as their numbers grew about an hour after former President Trump’s speech concluded.
MCCONNELL SAYS HE WAS DEFENDING THE CONSTITUTION, NOT TRUMP, IN IMPEACHMENT ACQUITTAL VOTE
Trump told his followers during that speech to protest “peacefully and patriotically,” but critics have said that one off-hand comment does not outweigh the balance of his rhetoric in the lengthy Jan. 6 speech or in the preceding weeks, in which he said the rally would be “wild.”
Trump was acquitted by the Senate earlier this month after a weeklong trial, following the House of Representatives on Jan. 13 voting to impeach him on one article – inciting insurrection – in connection with the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
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Trump was the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice and the first president out of office to go through an impeachment proceeding.
Trump was acquitted, with 57 senators voting for his conviction – short of the required two-thirds majority – and 43 voting against.
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