US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for more funding for Capitol security, citing the ongoing threat of violence from “all the president’s men” — a reference to the mob of former President Trump‘s supporters who ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Between COVID — where we need to have vaccinations more broadly in the Capitol so that many more people can come here and do their jobs — [and] the threat of all the president’s men out there, we have to ensure with our security that we are safe enough to do our job, but not impeding [that work],” Pelosi told reporters at a press briefing.
Also, Capitol Police on Thursday requested the National Guard extend its deployment of National Guardsmen at the Capitol amid heightened security concerns almost two months after the Jan. 6 attack.
“Today, US Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman formally asked the Department of Defense to extend the support provided by the National Guard to remain at the Capitol beyond March 12th,” the police said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, a Defense Department official said the Pentagon was reviewing a draft request from Capitol Police to extend the deployment, which started after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Details of the potential extension “are still being worked out,” the Pentagon official said.
Capitol Police provided few other details.
The security issue has been front and center since the mob overwhelmed law enforcement officers and forced the evacuation of lawmakers who were certifying President Biden‘s victory in the Electoral College.
On Wednesday, the House moved up a vote because Capitol Police and the FBI had warned that some of the militia groups participating in the Jan. 6 rampage had designs on a second attack on March 4 — a symbolic date which marked the inauguration of presidents until the early 1930s.
Those conservative conspiracy theorists, law enforcers warned, believed Trump would somehow return to the White House on that day.
The threat of another violent attack on the Capitol had unnerved many lawmakers who were targeted on Jan. 6.
Pelosi on Thursday, however, downplayed the significance of the new security threat in the decision to keep the House out of session on Thursday. She noted that Republicans launch their annual issues retreat Thursday afternoon, and the House had a short floor schedule already in place to accommodate that event.
“I don’t think anybody should take any encouragement that, because some trouble-makers might show up, that we changed our whole schedule,” Pelosi said. “No, we just moved it a few hours, and it largely will accommodate the Republicans going to their own [conference].
Yet a number of Democrats — lawmakers and leadership aides alike — had said Wednesday that the schedule change was a direct result of the violent threats. And Pelosi on Thursday acknowledged that security concerns were a factor, noting that the logistics of keeping 435 House lawmakers safe is a taller order than ensuring the safety of 100 senators, who remain in session Thursday.
“Frankly, there are a lot of us,” she said. “The Senate is in, and they should be. We’re at least four times more people, and therefore all that that implies in terms of numbers of people in the Capitol — if in fact there’s any troublemakers around.”
The comments come as the Capitol Police have asked the Pentagon to extend the deployment of thousands of National Guard troops, who have been stationed around the Capitol complex since Jan. 6.
Pelosi declined to comment on the prospect of keeping those troops around for another two months, deflecting questions of Capitol security to the officials in ch