The governors of Texas, Florida and New Hampshire said they ordered their National Guard troops to return home from Washington, DC, after some Guard members providing security at the inauguration were subsequently told to sleep in a parking lot.
“They’re soldiers, they’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said on “Fox and Friends“Friday morning.” It‘s a half-armed mission at this point, and I think the proper thing is to bring them home. “
His comments came after Governor Greg Abbott of Texas and Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, also Republicans, said they too had called for the return of their troops.
“They have done an outstanding job serving our nation’s capital during a time of conflict and should be graciously praised, not subjected to substandard conditions,” Mr. Sununu written on twitter Friday morning.
The governors’ orders were the last signs of outrage over the relocation of troops on Thursday on the floor of a parking lot at Thurgood Marshall’s Federal Judicial Building. Members of Congress demanded that members of the National Guard be returned to the Capitol building, with some offering to let the troops sleep in their offices. They were eventually returned to Capitol Hill, said Captain Edwin Nieves Jr., a spokesman for the Washington, DC branch of the National Guard on Friday morning.
He said troops were moved from Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon at the request of Capitol Police due to “increased foot traffic” as Congress returned to session, but a statement from the acting chief of Capitol Police on Friday sought to keep the besieged agency away from the move.
Chief Yogananda Pittman said Capitol Police did not tell troops to leave the Capitol except at certain times on inauguration day, and even then troops were encouraged to return to the building at 2 p.m. That day. She said officials of the office building whose troops were using the parking lot had contacted “the National Guard directly to suggest the use of its facilities.”
The reaction from governors and lawmakers comes with scores of troops already leaving the city, their mission ended after President Biden was sworn in on Wednesday. The Pentagon said Friday that most of the approximately 26,000 National Guard troops who had helped secure the event were returning home. About 19,000 troops from across the country have started packing and returning to their home states, a process that will take around five to 10 days and will include coronavirus screenings.
About 7,000 troops are expected to remain in Washington until the end of January to provide support to federal agencies and guard against a possible repeat of the January 6 violation of the Capitol by supporters of President Trump.