Sen. Tom Cotton: ‘It’s Time to Send Home the Troops’ Stationed in D.C.

National Guard Citizen-soldiers exit after a U.S. Capitol tour on January 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. Due to COVID-19, Capitol tours had been restricted since March 13, 2020, but have exclusively been reopened for National Guard members. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) penned an op-ed for Fox News on Wednesday that called for the removal of National Guard troops from Washington, DC, following the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden.

Cotton opened the piece by detailing his calls for National Guard troops to be sent into cities last summer as “left-wing mobs rioted in the streets.”

“My position was grounded in federal law, based on many historical precedents, and supported by a majority of Americans,” Cotton wrote. “But this argument outraged many on the left, so much so that the editor of the New York Times opinion page lost his job for publishing it.”

“But when a different mob chanting different slogans threatened our Capitol, many of my critics sang a different tune,” Cotton added. “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.”

Cotton praised the troops that have been stationed in D.C. for some time now, offering gratitude for those that “deployed on short notice, leaving behind their families and jobs.”

“Despite cold weather and uncomfortable conditions, these soldiers did their duty, in the finest traditions of the Guard,” Cotton said. “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, a member of the Intelligence Committee, also stated that he has seen “no specific, credible threat reporting—as distinguished from aspirational, uncoordinated bluster on the internet—that justifies this continued troop presence. Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs.”

“The lesson of the Capitol riot is not that we should quarter a standing army at the Capitol just in case, but rather that our security measures should be calibrated to the actual threats,” Cotton asserted.

Cotton, while highlighting the measures that should have been taken to better control the situation, noted D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s involvement, who he claimed “insisted that the small detachment of National Guard soldiers who deployed to assist with traffic control come unarmed” and “pandered to anti-police radicals by sending a letter to the acting Attorney General discouraging additional deployments of federal law enforcement.”

“The last few weeks have shown, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, that there is a time to send in the troops, and a time to send them home,” Cotton concluded. “Those decisions must reflect actual security needs—not ideological pandering and knee-jerk reactions.”

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