Thousands of national guardsmen were turfed out of the Capitol building on Thursday and sent to sleep in car parks, before being allowed back in late at night after complaints from lawmakers. Despite the quick reversal, two Republican governors commanded their troops home in protest.
US Capitol police had ordered the reservists to vacate the building and set up camp outdoors or in nearby hotels, with thousands ending up stationed outside or in car parks.
“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,” one of the guardsmen told Politico.
The National Guard were brought into the US capital to provide security after Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6.
The guardsman told the news site that they had been forced to rest in a car park with just a single electrical socket, no internet reception and just one lavatory for 5,000 troops.
All National Guard troops had been told to vacate the Capitol and nearby buildings on Thursday, although it was unclear why.
Initial reports of the move caused outrage among Democratic and Republican Senators and members of Congress alike.Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted: “If this is true, it’s outrageous. I will get to the bottom of this”. Republican Tom Cotton, tweeted the same message, adding: “we’ll get it fixed”.
By 10pm on Thursday night it was confirmed that the guardsmen would be allowed back into the Capitol complex, with Senator Tammy Duckworth, a veteran herself, saying: “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”.
Guardsmen were seen filing out of the car parks and back to the Capitol building at around midnight.
Despite the swift about-face, the Governors of Florida and New Hampshire said they would withdraw their guardsmen in protest.
“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,’ tweeted New Hampshire’s governor Chris Sununu on Friday morning.—AP