The January 6 deadly insurrection/failed MAGA coup (carried out while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote) led to a massive beefing up of security on Capitol Hill. This, naturally, led to an influx of National Guardsmen to Washington, D.C. and photos of service members sleeping in the halls of the U.S. Capitol itself. It was understood that these members would stay throughout the Biden Inauguration and slightly beyond, but something went amiss with their living arrangements.
Exactly what happened appears to confuse everyone, but Politico reported that U.S. Capitol Police ordered the Guardsmen out of the Capitol building itself, which meant that they had to sleep outdoors, and they headed to parking garages. This alleged treatment transpired after two weeks of nonstop security duty, for which the Guardsmen traded off and were allowed to sleep while not “on the clock,” and one unit (with 5,000 troops) was allowed to rest in the Dirksen Senate Office but shoved out on Thursday. This led the unit to one particular parking garage that only contained one bathroom (with two stalls) while temps fell into the high 30s. Politico posted photos of these troops sleeping in the garage, and one Guardsman is quoted as stating, “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.”
As one would expect, everyone who heard about this treatment felt outraged. CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted, “Whoever in DC is in charge of this National-Guard-sleeping-in-a-Senate-parking-lot mess, please get in touch with me; folks with connections to empty hotel rooms are also contacting me.”
Whoever in DC is in charge of this National-Guard-sleeping-in-a-Senate-parking-lot mess, please get in touch with me; folks with connections to empty hotel rooms are also contacting me
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 22, 2021
CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju posted photos from earlier this week when the guardsmen slept on a cafeteria floor.
Guardsmen on Hill are enduring really difficult conditions. Hundreds are sleeping on the cold hard floors of the Capitol. And now, per reports in Politico and confirmed by CNN, in a parking garage. Here are my photos from this week in Dirksen cafeteria. https://t.co/7nOsWvtrBP pic.twitter.com/qLiQwBxsao
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 22, 2021
The Politico report, which was confirmed by CNN, quickly led to several congresspeople (on both ends of the political spectrum) tweeting about this “unacceptable” arrangement. No one seems to know who requested the order to push the troops outside, but Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted, “[W]hatever happened, they are working to fix the problem now.”
Unacceptable. Numerous Senators working to fix this as we speak. I just got off the phone with the acting Capitol Police Chief who insists there was no general request for the Guard to vacate the building. But whatever happened, they are working to fix the problem now. https://t.co/dR5LQvN1UF
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 22, 2021
Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer—why are American troops who are tasked with keeping security at the Capitol being forced to sleep in a parking lot?
They deserve to be treated with respect, and we deserve answers. pic.twitter.com/J0R2dRC8bM
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 22, 2021
I just visited the solders who have been abandoned & insulted by our leaders. I brought them pizza and told them that they can sleep in my office.
No soldier will ever, ever sleep on a garage floor in the US Capitol while I work in Congress
Our Troops deserve better. pic.twitter.com/4attFqhRRJ
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 22, 2021
We should be grateful to the members of the National Guard who are here securing the Capitol. I don’t know who ordered them to go sleep in a garage and can’t understand why they would do that.
It needs to be reversed.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 22, 2021
Yeah this is not okay.
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.
(We’re in the middle of moving offices and it’s a bit messy so don’t judge, but make yourself at home!) https://t.co/JyEvC4kg6o
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 22, 2021
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. I am demanding answers ASAP. They can use my office. https://t.co/GlSSx9nqXo
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 22, 2021
Likewise, Twitter users were outraged, and some suggested that Trump open up his nearby hotel after inciting the insurrection that led to this situation.
Is there really no place in DC where the NG can stay? There has to be something better than a parking garage. If they're no longer needed for protection, send them back to their home states.
— DeeHill (@PeachLady2015) January 22, 2021
Commandeer the Trump hotel since he's the reason they had to be there in the first place.
— Kathleen (@KathleenT135) January 22, 2021
Sequester the Trump hotel as a barracks. Trump can pick up the tab for what his attempted insurrection has caused.
— Jeff Willis (@reffrey_willis) January 22, 2021
He is right. The Trump hotel is empty. Commandeer it for use by the Guardsmen. https://t.co/ZXvhjQQNMk
— charlie (@TheOldOlaf) January 22, 2021
Manu Raju later reported that the issue “has been resolved” according to several members of Congress.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 22, 2021
CNN further updated the situation, stating word from a guardsman that Guard members were permitted to reenter the Capitol Complex, and “will now be allowed to rest in the US Capitol Visitor Center.”