The sizable ongoing presence –at the behest of Democrats – of National Guard troops in the nation’s capital following January unrest has puzzled many, and the latest high-profile government appointment only adds to the unusually militaristic atmosphere that persists.
The Associated Press reported on Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the appointment of commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, Major General William Walker, as a replacement for Paul Irving, the House of Representatives sergeant-at-arms that was forced to resign in the wake of the January Capitol riot.
Walker notably played a role in dispatching backup troops on Jan. 6 to assist Capitol Police officers who where overwhelmed by demonstrators attempting to enter the halls of Congress. He also testified at a subsequent Senate hearing on the events, saying, “[I] was sickened by the violence and destruction I witnessed that fateful day.”
The move serves to replace Timothy Blodgett, who assumed the sergeant-at-arms role on a temporary basis in January and is the permanent replacement for Paul Irving, who was forced out of the job due to security failures that resulted in Capitol breach, according to Politico.
In tapping Walker for the role, Pelosi noted his 39 years of experience in the military and his time working as a Special Agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which she explained “will be an important asset to the House, particularly in light of the January 6 insurrection,” adding:
It is essential that we work to strengthen our institution and keep our Capitol community, and all who visit, safe.
Walker’s qualifications for the job were echoed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who praised the “experience, skill set, and vision” he brings to the table, adding that “every member, staffer, employee, and visitor to the Capitol should feel safe with Maj. Gen. Walker at the helm of Sergeant at Arms operations.”
Earlier this month, the Senate also tapped a seasoned military leader, retired Army Lieutenant General and former director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command, Karen Gibson, to serve as its sergeant-at-arms, replacing Michael Stenger, who resigned immediately after the protests on Jan. 6, according to NPR.
Pelosi, for her part, is continuing to probe the events of Jan.6, though her hope of establishing an independent commission to study what occurred is being whittled away by resistance from Republicans in the House who claim that the process as described would be tilted in favor of Democrat members and that the scope of the investigation was over-broad, according to AP.
With thousands of National Guard troops slated to remain in D.C. through at least late May, it seems clear that Pelosi and those on her side of the aisle are unwilling to let go of the false narrative that those who disagree with them politically are poised to launch a violent insurgency at any moment.