Pelosi swears in first Black House sergeant-at-arms

Pelosi swears in first Black House sergeant-at-arms
© Greg Nash

William Walker, the former head of the Washington, D.C., National Guard, became the first Black House sergeant-at-arms Monday.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) administered the oath of office to Walker during a House pro forma session ahead of President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE's address to Congress on Wednesday.

Walker will be in the spotlight Wednesday when he escorts the president down the House chamber's center aisle for the address, which will be the first since Biden took office in January.

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"Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that you take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which you are about to enter, so help you God?" Pelosi asked, to which Walker answered in the affirmative.

Walker was serving as the D.C. National Guard chief during the Jan. 6 insurrection and provided assistance to the Capitol Police who were overwhelmed by the mob of former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE's supporters who stormed the Capitol to try to stop lawmakers from affirming the election results.

Walker testified before Congress earlier this year that Army leaders expressed concerns about the "optics" of deploying the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

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“The Army senior leaders did not think that it looked good, it would be a good optic. They further stated that it could incite the crowd,” Walker said at a Senate hearing in early March.

Walker said that acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee and then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund “passionately pleaded for the District of Columbia National Guard to get to the Capitol with all deliberate speed."

But according to Walker, Army officials said that "it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol."

Walker fills the vacancy left by the previous House sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, who resigned after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Timothy Blodgett has been serving as the acting House sergeant-at-arms following Irving's resignation until the position was filled on a permanent basis. Blodgett had been the House's deputy sergeant-at-arms.

Pelosi said upon announcing Walker's appointment in late March that his experience "will be an important asset to the House, particularly in light of the January 6 insurrection."

"His historic appointment as the first Black American to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms is an important step forward for this institution and our nation," Pelosi added at the time.