Thousands of off-duty National Guardsmen were allowed to return to the U.S. Capitol on Thursday evening, hours after reports emerged that they had been ordered to vacate the building, set up mobile commands away from the Capitol and take their rest breaks in nearby parking garages, according to Politico, CNN and The Washington Post.
National Guardsmen have been patrolling the U.S. Capitol for over two weeks, ever since Trump supporters stormed the building on Jan. 6 in riots that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.
In recent weeks, photos from lawmakers and reporters have shown guardsmen, still dressed in fatigues, resting in hallways in between shifts. According to CNN, guardsmen were permitted to sleep in "designated rest areas" throughout the Capitol.
However, Politico first reported Thursday that the National Guard had been ordered to vacate the U.S. Capitol on the orders of the Capitol police. According to Politico, the National Guard was told to set up mobile commands at nearby hotels, and troops were ordered to rest in parking garages in between their 12-hour shifts.
Photographs published by Politico on Thursday showed guardsmen laying on the ground in nearby parking garages. The outlet reports that one unit of about 5,000 troops was banished to one parking garage that included one bathroom with two stalls, a single electrical outlet and no internet access.
"We honestly just feel betrayed," one guardsman told CNN. "After everything went seamlessly, we were deemed useless and banished to a corner of a parking garage."
Politico's report prompted outrage from several lawmakers.
"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," Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, tweeted. "I'll keep checking to make sure they are."
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
"Why are American troops who are tasked with keeping security at the Capitol being forced to sleep in a parking lot?" said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarty, R-California, while attempting to place blame on Democratic leadership.
Politico had reported that the banishment came from Capitol police officials, not Congressional leadership.
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?— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 22, 2021
They deserve to be treated with respect, and we deserve answers. pic.twitter.com/J0R2dRC8bM
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, offered up her office as a break room.
Yeah this is not okay.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 22, 2021
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
By Thursday evening, National Guardsmen were permitted to return inside the Capitol, Politico reported.