Members of Maryland’s congressional delegation visited National Guard soldiers stationed at the U.S. Capitol amid an uproar over troops being inexplicably sent to take their breaks on Thursday night in a parking garage.
“It was an honor to visit with members of the Maryland National Guard protecting the Capitol today and thank them for their service,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, in a tweet Thursday evening.
It was an honor to visit with members of the Maryland National Guard protecting the Capitol today and thank them for their service. Their dedication to our nation is an inspiration to all Americans. pic.twitter.com/ZNBEGgrQQS
— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) January 21, 2021
Later that night, photographs surfaced of troops resting on the concrete floor of a nearby garage.
More than 25,000 National Guard personnel from several states, including hundreds from Maryland, were sent to Capitol Hill following the deadly Jan. 6 riot to provide security for President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
In the unheated garage, few toilets were shared by hundreds of soldiers — who inhaled exhaust fumes and had trouble sleeping under the fluorescent lights, two Maryland officers told The Washington Post.
Following outrage from members of the public and lawmakers alike, the troops were allowed to rest inside the Capitol complex again by Friday morning.
The D.C. National Guard said the soldiers had been temporarily moved at the Capitol Police’s request due to “increased foot traffic” created by Congress being back in session. Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman denied that claim on Friday.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen said he was “livid” when he learned of the troops’ relocation to the garage, which happened just hours after he had visited National Guard members from Maryland to thank them for their service.
Last night, I learned that members of the @NationalGuard were ordered to take their breaks in parking garages. I was livid—especially since hours earlier I met to thank @MDNG members. Glad to report we remedied the situation, but no one should take those who serve for granted. pic.twitter.com/aVcwOWm7T9
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 23, 2021
“Glad to report we remedied the situation, but no one should take those who serve for granted,” the Democratic senator said in a tweet Friday night.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Takoma Park, also thanked Maryland National Guard members for “protecting our Capitol and democracy” — an experience that he said was “profoundly moving.”
Honored today to be with Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead and amazing Maryland National Guard members from across MD protecting our Capitol and democracy. Profoundly moving. pic.twitter.com/CWY1AfvBLn
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) January 23, 2021