McConnell says 'overdone' Capitol security reminds him of war-torn Afghanistan

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Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said the fortified security at the Capitol two months after the Jan. 6 riot is “overdone,” and he compared the militarization in Washington, D.C., to Afghanistan. 

“I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can’t come to the Capitol,” McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday during a news conference. “With all this razor wire around the complex, it reminds me of my last visit to Kabul. This is the Capitol of the United States of America.”

McConnell last visited war-weary Afghanistan in October 2015.

The enhanced security has been a mainstay at the Capitol in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, when pro-President Trump supporters attacked the complex and sought to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s Electoral College win.

GOP MEMBERS DEMAND ANSWERS FROM PELOSI ON WHEN THE CAPITOL FENCE IS COMING DOWN

Access to the Capitol grounds has been severely restricted, with new fencing surrounding the complex and National Guard troops stationed throughout.

National Guard keep watch on the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Capitol Police say they have uncovered intelligence of a "possible plot" by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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“I think we’ve overdone it,” McConnell said. “I just checked earlier this morning [and] there are no serious threats against the Capitol. I think we’re way overreacting to the current need.”

McConnell said some security upgrades are probably necessary after the riot, but the level of fortification that is currently deployed is an overreaction based on the current threat level. 

National Guard keep watch on the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Capitol Police say they have uncovered intelligence of a "possible plot" by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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“It looks terrible to have the beacon of our democracy surrounded by razor wire and National Guard troops,” McConnell said. 

PENTAGON TO EXTEND NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS AT US CAPITOL

The comments from the top Senate GOP leader come as a group of House Republicans Tuesday raised similar concerns about the fencing and troops.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., was among the 17 GOP members who authored a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding answers on the security. Gimenez called the fencing “overkill” and he believes the extraordinary security measures remain up “for political reasons and not really safety reasons.”

National Guard keep watch on the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Capitol Police say they have uncovered intelligence of a "possible plot" by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Still, the Pentagon plans to approve the extension of the National Guard troops stationed at the U.S. Capitol for another two months, a senior defense official told Fox News this week.

The announcement followed a request from Capitol Police that 2,200 National Guard troops remain behind to assist with security concerns.

Fox News confirmed that roughly 1,700 guardsmen will continue to serve at the Capitol – a security force reduced from the 5,000 troops currently deployed in Washington, D.C.

There have been various security reviews underway since the Jan. 6 riot.

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Pelosi tapped retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to conduct a review of Capitol security in the aftermath. Honoré and his team led bipartisan briefings for members of Congress on Monday on his recommendations, including establishing a 24/7 “Quick Reaction Force.”

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Caitlin McFall contributed to the report.

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