Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the U.S. Capitol Thursday evening, greeting the National Guard troops quartered at the complex and thanked them for their service.
“Thank you all for stepping forward to serve your country. Thank you for stepping forward to provide security. Here at our nation’s Capitol. It’s such an important time in the life of our nation,” Pence said to the group of troops outside the U.S. Capitol complex.
“I want you to thank your families as well. I know you all had to move out to get here and being here at the Capitol, providing a level of security is going to make it possible for us to have a historic transfer of power — the inauguration of a new president of the United States. You all are going to make that possible,” Pence added.
Pence individually spoke to some of the service members asking what part of the United States they reside in, when were they called up to guard the nation’s capital as well as how long each has served in the National Guard.
“I just encourage you to be vigilant, respect the unified chain of command, look after your people, and we’re going to deliver to the American people,” the vice president said.
“Have a safe inauguration and I just wanted to stop out and say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for your service, thank you for stepping forward. And just God bless you in the days ahead. It’s been my great honor to serve as your vice president and I want to thank you for your service,'” Pence continued.
National Guard members from around the country were sent to Washington, D.C. after last Wednesday’s Capitol riots during Congress joint session in certifying the Electoral College Votes.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon approved the National Guardsmen protecting the U.S. Capitol to carry lethal weapons in the days leading up to the inauguration due to law enforcement receiving information of credible threats of violence and that protesters could be heavily armed.
“National Guard members are postured to meet the requirements of the supported civil authorities, up to and including protective equipment and being armed if necessary,” the D.C. Guard said in a statement. “The public’s safety is our top priority.”
Earlier, Pence in remarks at the beginning of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inauguration security briefing said that he is committed “to an orderly transition and to a safe inauguration.”
“We all lived through that day of January the 6th and as the President made clear yesterday, we are committed to an orderly transition and to a safe Inauguration. The American people deserve nothing less,” Pence said during the beginning of the FEMA briefing.
“We’re going to ensure that we have a safe Inauguration. That President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in as the new president and vice president of the United States. In a manner consistent with our history, with our traditions in a way that gives honor to the American people and the United States,” Pence added.
Up to 20,000 National Guard troops and other officers nationwide are expected to be deployed at the request of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and other civil authorities.