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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approves request to extend nearly 2,300 troops at Capitol until May 23

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday approved an extension until May 23 of nearly 2,300 troops to support Capitol Hill police. 

The United States Capitol police formally sent a request to the Department of Defense last week.  The request asked to keep over 2,000 National Guard service members for 60 days. The current mission was set to end March 12. 

The National Guard has been stationed at the Capitol since the events of the January 6 riot. Currently, there are about 5,100 service members, down from the peak of 26,000 stationed there for Inauguration Day on January 20. 

The Pentagon in a press release said officials will work with the U.S. Capitol police to incrementally reduce the National Guard footprint as conditions allow. 

Capitol Police said in a statement Tuesday night that they are "extremely grateful" to the Defense Department for their "continued commitment to support our critical mission to protect Congress. The National Guard has played a critical role to the Department's enhanced security posture."

Nikole Killion contributed to this report. 

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