October 27, 2021

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Guard troops back inside Capitol after furor over move to parking garage – NBC News

3 min read

National Guard troops were allowed back into the Capitol to rest after being asked to move, a request that sent some to a parking garage, officials said.

Senators expressed outrage Thursday evening after Politico reported that Capitol Police had asked the troops to move their rest area and some ended up in the garage.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, said that by 10:30 p.m., Capitol Police had apologized to the Guard personnel, who had been allowed back into the complex Thursday night.

Army Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, commander of the inauguration task force, confirmed that troops were out of the parking garage and back in the Capitol and will take breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward.

Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost her legs after the helicopter she was in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2004, said that forcing the troops out of the Capitol was “unreal.”

“I can’t believe that the same brave servicemembers we’ve been asking to protect our Capitol and our Constitution these last two weeks would be unceremoniously ordered to vacate the building,” Duckworth wrote in a tweet.

Thousands of Guard troops remain in Washington after being called in to help secure Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden, and after a deadly riot by a pro-Trump mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Washington, D.C., National Guard said earlier Thursday that they were asked to move its rest area by 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. They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities,” the D.C. Guard said.

“We remain an agile and flexible force to provide for the safety and security of the Capitol and its surrounding areas,” it said.

Security detail requires a rest and break so troops can get out of the weather, the D.C. Guard said.

Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment after senators said the situation had been resolved and that an apology had been issued.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, vowed to get to the bottom of the situation.

Some lawmakers had offered to let troops stay in their office spaces.

“Congress is in session, but buildings are still closed to public, so there’s plenty of room for troops to take a break in them,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, who is also a veteran and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, tweeted.

In the days following the riot and preceding the presidential inauguration, troops were seen resting in between shifts on the marble floors of the Capitol.

National Guard troops from across the country were sent to Washington to provide support. Almost 26,000 were sent.

Approximately 10,600 were on duty Thursday afternoon, and arrangements were being made to send 15,000 home as soon as possible, the National Guard Bureau said.

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