The National Guard troops who were “banished” to a cramped parking garage amid outrage after protecting Washington, DC, in the aftermath of the deadly riots have been allowed back into the US Capitol.
“Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, Inauguration Task Force Commander confirms that troops are out of the garage and back into the Capitol building as authorized by the USCP (U.S. Capitol Police) Watch Commander and the troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward,” the Guard said in a statement late Thursday, CBS News reported.
Photos of the troops hunkered down in the garage drew condemnation from lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called the move “outrageous.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, said in a tweet: “Just made a number of calls and have been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the Guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight. I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”
After midnight, she added: “Troops are now all out of the garage. Now I can go to bed.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said the situation was “being resolved” late Thursday and that the Guardsmen would be able to return indoors later in the night, according to Politico.
The troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall, according to the outlet.
On Thursday afternoon, Capitol Police asked the National Guard to relocate the troops who had been using the Capitol to rest during their shifts, National Guard Bureau spokesman Major Matt Murphy told CBS News.
“As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area,” Murphy said. “They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities.”
South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott slammed the move on Twitter.
“Our troops deserve the utmost honor & respect for securing the Capitol & defending democracy this week,” he wrote. “This is unconscionable & unsafe. Whoever’s decision this was to house our National Guardsmen & women in underground parking lots must be held accountable.”
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) tweeted: “This is outrageous, shameful, and incredibly disrespectful to the men and women keeping the U.S. Capitol safe and secure. We need it fixed and we need answers on how it happened.”
After President Joe Biden’s inauguration went off with only a handful of minor arrests and incidents, more than 15,000 National Guard troops are preparing to head home.
The National Guard Bureau said that of the nearly 26,000 troops deployed to the capital for the inaugural, just 10,600 remain on duty.
The bureau said the Guard is helping states with coordination and the logistics so that troops can get home.
Thousands of Guard troops from all across the country poured into DC late last week, in response to escalating security threats and fears of more rioting after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
With Post wires
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