Thousands of National Guard troops were allowed back inside the Capitol after Capitol Police had ordered them out of the facilities due to increased foot traffic inside as Congress came back into session.
One Guardsman said the group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said. Temperatures in Washington were in the low 40s by nightfall.
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said.
The troops were among the 20,000+ who provided security for the Biden inauguration.
As the news spread among Congress members, several called for answers and offered their offices for use to as rest areas.
A report from MilitaryTimes said that some troops were disappointed that the blame was being pointed to Capitol Police, saying Capitol Police were graciously acting like co-workers to troops, offering drinks, snacks and showing them around the buildings.
Some soldiers commented that they were concerned about the garage being an easy place to contract COVID-19 as well as being a soft target. Others said they felt unappreciated by the politicians
“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 Watch Commander and the troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward,” according to a statement to Military Times by Air Force Maj. Matthew Murphy, a National Guard Bureau spokesman. “Our troops are going to hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations at the end of their shifts.”
“Because of the MASSIVE backlash over this, we are now being allowed back into the Senate building,” one National Guard soldier told Military Times. “We’re going to make a big show of marching back into the building.”