According to a POLITICO report published Thursday, thousands of National Guardsmen were ordered to leave the Capitol building and rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet and one bathroom for 5,000 troops.
The guardsmen, who had been resting inside the Capitol building between 12-hour shifts, were told they could no longer use the Capitol building as a rest area after protecting the nation’s capital in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration.
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service,” a guardsman told POLITICO. “Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed.”
After the POLITICO article was published, many lawmakers took to Twitter to ask for answers.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) called the situation “unreal” and offered her office to be used as a rest area for the guardsmen.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted: “If this is true, it’s outrageous. I will get to the bottom of this.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) noted that the Capitol buildings remain closed to the public, “so there’s plenty of room for troops to take a break in them.”
By 10 p.m., Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said the situation was “being resolved” and that the guardsmen would be able to return to the Capitol building later that night.
“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,” added Sen. Duckworth. “I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”
Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, the Guard’s Inauguration Task Force commander, confirmed in a statement to POLITICO that the troops were out of the garage and back into the Capitol building late Thursday night.
The National Guard Bureau said the troops had been temporarily relocated because Congress was in session.
“The National Guard continues to assist and support the U.S. Capitol Police. As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area,” the National Guard Bureau said in a statement. “They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities. We remain an agile and flexible force to provide for the safety and security of the Capitol and its surrounding areas.”
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy