More than 5,000 National Guard troops are expected to remain in Washington, D.C., through mid-March due to concerns about future violent demonstrations.
However, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) argued in an op-ed published on Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s inauguration occurred without violent demonstrations that were feared, and now it is time for the thousands of National Guard troops who deployed to the city to go home.
Cotton noted that over the summer, he called for federal troops to be deployed in U.S. cities to quell violent demonstrations in an op-ed published by The New York Times. His op-ed over the summer led to the resignation of the paper’s editor of its editorial page.
“But when a different mob chanting different slogans threatened our Capitol, many of my critics sang a different tune,” Cotton said.
He continued, “I’m ruefully gratified that so many of them have rallied to my side. Perhaps they’ll show more gratitude for law enforcement the next time a mob threatens public safety and order, no matter what cause the perpetrators claim to support.”
He noted that “despite cold weather and uncomfortable conditions, these soldiers did their duty, in the finest traditions of the Guard.”
“Their presence, coupled with tough federal charges against the Capitol rioters, deterred any further violence; the presidential inauguration occurred without incident. With the inauguration complete and threats receding, now it’s time, yes, to send home the troops.”
Cotton went on to say that he has not seen evidence of a specific or credible threat that would warrant the continued deployment of National Guard troops in the nation’s capital.
He also argued that the “the lesson” of the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is not that there should be a “standing army at the Capitol, just in case.”
“Rather that our security measures should be calibrated to the actual threats,” he said.
He went on to note that the presence of the National Guard ahead of and during the inauguration was “plainly disproportionate to the threat” and would have been disproportionate if there were attempts to interrupt the inauguration.
Additionally, he said that the Capitol Police can request back-up from the Washington, D.C., police department, and other federal law enforcement agencies, which can “can draw upon the approximately 17,000 soldiers of the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia National Guards.”
“We needed this security posture in the run-up to January 6, and it’s the appropriate posture now,” he argued.
Instead of facing threats of future violence, Cotton claimed “the worst threats these troops face is the coronavirus,” as he noted roughly 200 National Guard troops tested positive for the virus after they were deployed to Washington, D.C.
Finally, Cotton said, “The National Guard answered the call at a critical time, but its mission is now complete. It’s time to reopen the Capitol grounds to the American people.”
“It’s time to send home the troops,” he added.