After spending days in the cold securing the U.S. Capitol after the death siege two weeks ago, Citizen Members of the National Guard were urged to leave the Capitol building and move to a nearby parking lot to rest during their shifts. The move drew swift condemnation from lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called the move “scandalous.”
Several insisted that it be reversed.
And that was, Thursday night.
The Guard issued a statement saying: “Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead, Inauguration Task Force Commander, confirms that the troops have exited the garage and returned to the Capitol building as authorized by the Guard Commander of the ‘USCP (United States Capitol Police) and troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall moving forward. ”
At around 3 p.m. on Thursday, Capitol Police asked the National Guard to move soldiers who were using the Capitol halls and open space to rest during their shifts.
About 3,500 National Guardsmen were moved out of the Capitol, but not all were in the parking lot at the same time. During their on-call shift, members are taken to the garage to warm up and take a break, and the guards return to a hotel when their shift is over.
Some guards expressed their displeasure at being transferred to a parking lot. Although the garage is heated and lighted, toilets, cell phones, internet service and power outlets are limited.
“It is outrageous, shameful and incredibly disrespectful to the men and women who provide security on the US Capitol,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D – Arizona). “We need to fix it and we need answers on how it went.”
Duckworth called this “unreal”, adding that she could not “believe that the same brave service members we have asked to protect our Capitol and our Constitution for the past two weeks would be unceremoniously ordered to leave the building. I demand answers as soon as possible. They can use my office. ”
Capitol Police said in a statement Thursday evening that the department “greatly appreciates the full support of the US National Guard to help secure the Capitol complex prior to and including the inaugural ceremony.”
The department said it had recently requested that the shifts of members of the guard be shortened to allow more off-campus rest time.