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Capitol feels "more like the Pentagon": San Diego delegation reacts to security, impeachment vote

20,000 troops expected by Inauguration Day
National Guard troops fortify the U.S. Capitol
Posted at 6:43 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 22:18:08-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Between the security fencing, the roadblocks and the thousands of National Guard troops, Rep. Mike Levin said the U.S. Capitol complex doesn’t feel like the Capitol right now.

“I was telling my wife this morning, it feels kind of like we’re in the Pentagon right now,” said the Democratic congressman who represents San Diego’s North County. “There’s a huge military presence.”

The military armed the Guard members Wednesday for the first time with a rifle and pistol amid threats of more extremist violence.

Some National Guard troops slept on the floor of the Capitol’s visitor center as they work 24-hour shifts leading up to President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Levin said it was heartbreaking this level of security was necessary.

“Here we are in the citadel of democracy and we have to have a force in the many thousands both today and through the inauguration, not because of any foreign adversary but because of domestic terrorism. We are so much better than that,” he said.

The vote on whether to impeach President Donald J. Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection came almost exactly one week after Rep. Levin was forced to shelter inside his office as a mob rampaged through the Capitol. Levin voted to impeach, along with the San Diego region’s three other Democratic representatives: Juan Vargas (D-51st District), Scott Peters (D-52nd District) and Sara Jacobs (D-53rd District).

Rep. Darrell Issa, the lone Republican in the San Diego delegation, voted against impeaching the president.

“With 167 hours left until he leaves office, is he a clear and present danger? And he clearly isn’t,” Issa said on the House floor. Issa argued that Democrats were using the vote to punish Trump for the last four years rather than his behavior last week.

Rep. Peters participated in the impeachment vote remotely as he quarantines after a potential COVID exposure.

“The President of the United States is watching an attack on the United States unfold and not fulfilling his obligation under the Constitution to protect us and protect democracy,” he said in an interview. “I just never thought I'd see it. So that's why we're in the situation we're in today.”

Peters said he plans to be in Washington D.C. to witness the inauguration next week despite the threats of violence.

By then, 20,000 National Guard troops are expected in DC. That’s more than three times the number of active duty troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria combined.