National Guard troops who were brought in to protect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s nomination as president found themselves sleeping in an unheated garage hours after being kicked off the Capitol on Thursday, causing an uproar among the lawmakers who rushed to push them back.
The troops were among more than 20,000 members of the National Guard who provided security for the inauguration on Wednesday. They were transferred Thursday afternoon to the nearby Thurgood Marshall Federal Judicial Building, said Captain Edwin Nieves Jr., spokesperson for the Washington, DC branch of the National Guard.
“As Congress is in session and foot traffic and business is on the increase, Capitol Police have asked troops to move their rest area outside the Capitol,” Captain Nieves said, adding that the relocation was temporary. The DC National Guard did not say how many soldiers were stationed in the garages or how long they would stay there.
Two Guard soldiers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had been relocated without explanation and had no adequate electricity, heating or toilets. One soldier estimated there were 1,000 soldiers sharing a portable toilet outside the garage.
“No orientation on the mission, the length of the mission, nothing,” the soldier said.
The soldiers also said their comrades were breathing exhaust fumes because the garage in the Thurgood Marshall center was still being used for parking.
Captain Nieves said the move was temporary and the garage had heating and toilets.
“We remain an agile and flexible force to ensure the safety and security of the Capitol and its surroundings,” he said.
Reports of the move sparked protests from lawmakers from both parties, including the parliamentary minority leader Kevin mccarthy, Republican and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. Some have offered to house the Guard troops in their offices.
“This is unacceptable and needs to be corrected,” Arizona Democrat Senator Mark Kelly wrote on Twitter.
On social media, some lawmakers said they were making efforts to bring troops back to Capitol Hill.
In a tweet, Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said he spoke to the acting Capitol Police chief about the issue.
The DC Guard did not immediately respond to a request Thursday night, inquiring about efforts to bring troops back to Capitol Hill.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon said 12 Guardsmen were removed from their posts during Mr. Biden’s inauguration after officials discovered they had written texts and social media posts containing comments threatening to politicians.