Just over an hour after the story of the displaced troops was reported, Sen. Tammy Duckworth was as outraged as any of those at the parking garage.
According to The Washington Post, moving the troops out was the decision of the Capitol police. With the return of both lawmakers and their staff, the hallways at the Capitol had become a busy place following the inauguration, and the concern appeared to be mostly about just the level of crowding having the guard members resting around the corridors was causing. The Post article also corrects one part of some of the outraged reporting that came out on Thursday when the story broke: the guard actually has hotel rooms for everyone, so no one was actually forced to spend the night sleeping in the garage. However, each of the Guard members is pulling long shifts at the Capitol, and it’s not as if there are 5,000 chairs in either the hallways or the parking garage.
Sen. Duckworth was just one of several members of the House and Senate who offered up their offices when they heard about the repositioning of the troops. An hour after her original tweet, Sen. Duckworth stated that she had “made a number of calls” and that “Capitol police have apologized to the guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight.” Soon after that, an agreement seemed to be reached.
Some of the soldiers involved were far from mollified by the actions of Duckworth or other members of Congress, and remained fuming as they returned to the Capitol. However, the issue appears to be a still-broken line of communication between the Capitol police and the guards units. The scenes of troops forced to rest on cold concrete and, in at least one location, sharing an overflowing portable toilet, were short lived. But they seem emblematic of a relationship between the Capitol police and the military that is still far from coordinated. Or cordial.
It’s unclear how long National Guard forces will remain in the Capitol, but it is clear that this level of staffing—with tens of thousands of men and women pressed into facilities not designed for them—can’t be long sustained.