(Washington) The decision to convert an underground parking garage into a dormitory for National Guard soldiers protecting the US Congress in Washington sparked anger Thursday night, forcing authorities to make a quick change.
Some of the 25,000 troops deployed in the US capital to ensure the safety of President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday after the building was attacked by supporters of Donald Trump on January 6, are accustomed to rest. Congress halls on the floor or on cribs.
But on Thursday afternoon, after the ceremony and the resumption of the parliamentary sessions, soldiers were erected in a nearby underground car park.
Images of soldiers seated on the ground leaning on concrete poles, under the faded neon light, with limited access to the Internet, toilets or electrical outlets, angered elected officials on both sides.
This decision “frankly unacceptable,” was released Friday morning by the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
“I have informed those responsible for security on Capitol Hill that this will not happen again, and I promise every member of the National Guard that it will not happen again,” he said.
“It’s an insult to all National Guard units that carry out orders and patrol in the cold and in the rain all night. They protected the Capitol when we needed them most,” Democratic Representative Brendan Boyle said on Twitter.
Republican Senator Tim Scott said the situation was “unthinkable and dangerous,” while Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, a former member of the Revolutionary Guard, had offered to leave his office for the reservists.
A few hours later, the soldiers were transferred to the Capitol complex.
In the afternoon, first lady of the United States Jill Biden made a surprise visit to a group of military personnel on duty outside Congress and presented them with chocolate chip cookies.
“The National Guard will always have a special place in every Biden’s hearts,” she said, referring to President Joe Biden’s late son Poe, who was a member of the Delaware National Guard.
Then Jill Biden went to a photo shoot with the Army.
According to Mr. Schumer, no one knows exactly who made the decision to expel the army. Guard officials said it came from the Capitol Police. But the latter, who was criticized for being overwhelmed by the crowd on January 6, denied this.
“It did not order the National Guard to leave the building,” Yogananda Pittman, acting head of the force, said in a statement.
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