Lawmakers outraged at images of National Guard sent from Capitol to parking garages

·4 min read
Lawmakers outraged at images of National Guard sent from Capitol to parking garages

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed outrage Friday at images of National Guard members, sent from around the country to secure the Capitol, resting and sleeping in nearby parking garages.

"I have told those who run the security at the Capitol that it can never happen again," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Friday. "I have pledged to every National Guard member it will not happen again. The minute I heard about this outrage last night we made sure it was fixed immediately. Every member of the Guard was found proper accommodations inside and as of this morning everyone was accounted for and taken care of this. This morning I went over to the CVC (Capitol Visitors Center) and I spoke to a number of Guardsmen personally to make sure they were okay."

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer greets National Guard soldiers inside the Capitol Visitors Center, Jan. 22, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Shawn Thew/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer greets National Guard soldiers inside the Capitol Visitors Center, Jan. 22, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Shawn Thew/EPA via Shutterstock)

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Schumer's sentiment.

"I don't think a single senator finds that acceptable," McConnell said. "I'm glad the situation was resolved and I hope we learn exactly what happened."

PHOTO: Photos like this one, showing the National Guardsmen resting in a parking garage, after they were ordered to leave the Capitol building following the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, sparked outrage among lawmakers. (Sen. Tim Scott)
PHOTO: Photos like this one, showing the National Guardsmen resting in a parking garage, after they were ordered to leave the Capitol building following the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, sparked outrage among lawmakers. (Sen. Tim Scott)

The No. 3 Senate Republican John Thune said he had reached out to members of the South Dakota National Guard.

"It breaks your heart. I mean these are people who are here serving the country, protecting us, protecting our freedom and our democracy and there's absolutely no excuse for that and I'm glad it got corrected and corrected quickly. That was just flat wrong." Thune said.

According to Politico, on Thursday night thousands of National Guard members were forced to vacate the Capitol where they had been staying to provide inauguration security.

“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,” Politico quoted one Guard member as saying, complaining about the conditions.

PHOTO: Photos like this one, showing the National Guardsmen resting in a parking garage, after they were ordered to leave the Capitol building following the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, sparked outrage among lawmakers. (Sen. Tim Scott)
PHOTO: Photos like this one, showing the National Guardsmen resting in a parking garage, after they were ordered to leave the Capitol building following the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, sparked outrage among lawmakers. (Sen. Tim Scott)

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois and a retired combat veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, called the situation "unreal" and offered her office for the Guard members to use. Members of both parties did the same, including New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

"My office is free this week to any service members who’d like to use it for a break or take nap on the couch. We’ll stock up on snacks for you all too," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.

PHOTO: Rep. Madison Cawthorn posted images from his visit with National Guard troops resting in a parking garage near the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 21, 2021. (CawthornforNC/Twitter)
PHOTO: Rep. Madison Cawthorn posted images from his visit with National Guard troops resting in a parking garage near the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 21, 2021. (CawthornforNC/Twitter)

Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican from North Carolina, posted video of himself delivering pizzas to Guard members in the parking structure.

"No soldier will ever, ever sleep on a garage floor in the US Capitol while I work in Congress," he tweeted.

As of Friday morning, it was still unclear who exactly told the National Guard members to move out of the Capitol hallways and into the parking garages.

The Capitol Police acting chief in a statement on Friday denied her force asked the National Guard to move .

"I want to assure everyone that, with the exception of specific times on Inauguration Day itself while the swearing-in ceremonies were underway, the United States Capitol Police did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities. And on Inauguration Day, the Guard was notified and encouraged to reoccupy the spaces in the Capitol and CVC at 2 p.m," Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said.

PHOTO: Photos like this one, showing the National Guardsmen resting in a parking garage, after they were ordered to leave the Capitol building following the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, sparked outrage among lawmakers. (Sen. Tim Scott)
PHOTO: Photos like this one, showing the National Guardsmen resting in a parking garage, after they were ordered to leave the Capitol building following the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, sparked outrage among lawmakers. (Sen. Tim Scott)

New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered their state Guard contingents back home.

"I’ve ordered the immediate return of all New Hampshire National Guard from Washington DC. They did an outstanding job serving our nation’s capital in a time of strife and should be graciously praised, not subject to substandard conditions," he wrote on Twitter.

On Friday afternoon, the National Guard and Capitol Police issued a joint statement, saying they are "united in the common goal to protect the U.S. Capitol and the Congress during this time.

"As with any large security operation, coordination and flexibility are required for all involved," the statement said. "The USCP and the National Guard have coordinated their efforts to ensure that National Guardsmen and women are stationed throughout the Capitol Complex are in appropriate spaces within Congressional buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, where they may take on-duty breaks.

"Off-duty troops are being housed in hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations. The National Guard appreciates the continuous support of Congressional members who expressed concern for our National Guard men and women," the statement said.

PHOTO: First lady Jill Biden surprises National Guard members outside the Capitol with chocolate chip cookies, Jan. 22, 2021 (Jacquelyn Martin/Poo/AP)
PHOTO: First lady Jill Biden surprises National Guard members outside the Capitol with chocolate chip cookies, Jan. 22, 2021 (Jacquelyn Martin/Poo/AP)

Also Friday afternoon, first lady Jill Biden stopped by outside the Capitol with a treat for some of the National Guard members: chocolate chip cookies.

ABC News' Allison Pecorin, Mariam Khan and Matt Seyler contributed to this report.

Lawmakers outraged at images of National Guard sent from Capitol to parking garages originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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