The U.S. Capitol has taken on the aura of a siege in recent days, with a wall springing up around the perimeter of the complex, and National Guard troops sleeping in the halls of the seat of government.
Images of the troops, who were on break from patrolling duties outside, made their way across social media on Wednesday, underscoring just how much has changed since the assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump forces a week earlier.
While guard troops have been patrolling for several days, they are now armed with rifles. It was another sign of the threat law enforcement officials say they’ve tracking related to next week’s inauguration and handover of power to President-elect Joseph R. Biden.
As of Tuesday night, there were 1,000 troops, and more are on the way, officials said.
Razor wire will also be installed on the 8-foot fence that’s been erected.
The National Guard’s presence at the inauguration is not new. They have performed crowd control and conducted emergency response in previous ones.
But acting as armed security this far out from the actual event is a striking break from those past duties and signals the tensions of the moment.
Last week’s assault saw thousands of rioters beach barriers around the Capitol. Many of them then proceeded to smash windows and doors and break into the building itself, where they took control of the Senate chamber and forced an armed standoff at the doors of the House chamber. One rioter was shot dead in the corridors just outside the House.
Members of Congress say they fear a repeat around the inauguration, with law enforcement warning of plans by extremists to stage actions in Washington and state capitals across the country.