WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Thousands of National Guard members were allowed back into the U.S. Capitol building after images of them sleeping in an outdoor garage surfaced.
About 5,000 troops were sent to the garage after the inauguration, where there was just one bathroom with two stalls, a single power outlet and no internet.
A photo tweeted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shows troops sleeping on the floor of the packed garage with temperatures in the low 40s.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers were equally outraged as additional photos and videos continued to surface online
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called what happened “utterly unacceptable.”
“The minute I heard about this outrage last night, we made sure it was fixed immediately,” Schumer said. “Every guard was found proper accommodations inside. As of this morning, everyone was accounted for and taken care of.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “I don’t think a single senator feels that was acceptable. I’m glad the situation was resolved, and we learn exactly what happened.”
NewsNation obtained a statement from acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, and she said Capitol police never instructed the National Guard to leave the Capitol complex. Read her full statement below:
“I want to assure everyone that, with the exception of specific times on Inauguration Day itself while the swearing-in ceremonies were underway, the United States Capitol police did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities. And on Inauguration Day, the Guard was notified and encouraged to reoccupy the spaces in the Capitol and CVC at 2 p.m.
Over the past several days, the U.S. Capital Police has been working tirelessly with its Congressional stakeholders to identify appropriate accommodations across the entire Capitol complex for their use.
It was brought to our attention early today that facility management with the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Office Building reached out directly to the National Guard to offer use of its facilities.
As of this morning, all Guardsmen and women have been relocated to space within the Capitol Complex. The Department is also working with the Guard to reduce the need for sleeping accommodations by establishing shorter shifts, and will ensure they have access to the comfortable accommodations they absolutely deserve when the need arises.”Chief Pittman, U.S. Capitol police
The photos surfaced as National Guard troops are starting to head home following heightened security at Biden’s inauguration. More than 15,000 members are preparing to leave Washington, D.C.
The National Guard Bureau said Thursday that just 10,600 of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to the nation’s capital remain on duty. The bureau said the Guard is helping states with coordination and the logistics so that troops can get home.
Read the full U.S. National Guard and U.S. Capitol Police statement below.