National Guardsmen assigned to protect Wednesday’s inauguration will no longer have to worry about being run over by cars or inhaling exhaust fumes while being forced to bivouac in a congressional parking garage.
“Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, Inauguration Task Force Commander confirms that troops are out of the garage and back into the Capitol building as authorized by the USCP [United States Capitol Police] Watch Commander and the troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward,” the D.C. National Guard announced in a statement after pictures and video of the Guardsmen in the parking garage emerged on Thursday.
“Our troops are going to hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations at the end of their shifts,” the statement says.
Lawmakers were outraged after Task & Purpose and other media outlets reported on Thursday that Maryland National Guardsmen had been forced to sleep in the unheated garage with only one toilet for between 500 and 1,000 people.
“It’s fucked up because it just shows how politicians really feel about the National Guard,” one National Guardsman told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal.
The anger from Congress was bipartisan: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted that his staff was checking to make sure that Texas National Guardsmen were OK. On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) offered to let Guardsmen sleep in her office.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) tweeted on Thursday that she was furious about the Guardsmen being treated so badly after spending two weeks guarding the nation’s capital.
Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost both of her legs when her helicopter was shot down over Iraq in 2004, later tweeted that she had been informed that all of the Guardsmen would be moved out of the garage by 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“Update: Troops are now all out of the garage,” she tweeted shortly after midnight. “Now I can go to bed.”