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Democrats bring National Guard back to the Capitol while GOP complains

In response to reports that National Guard troops had been ejected from the Capitol, Democratic lawmakers worked to fix things.

By Donna Provencher - January 22, 2021
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Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Members of the National Guard, brought to Washington, D.C., to maintain security during events for the inauguration of President Joe Biden after the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of Donald Trump, were allegedly asked to leave the Capitol on Thursday night.

Politico reported, “One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said. Temperatures in Washington were in the low 40s by nightfall.”

In response to the reporting that Capitol Police had been responsible for evicting the National Guard troops, House and Senate Democrats worked to find out what had happened and make it right.

GOP lawmakers stood on the sidelines criticizing Democratic leadership and creating photo ops.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was among the first to publicly speak up, retweeting the Politico story and writing, “If this is true, it’s outrageous. I will get to the bottom of this.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who lost both her legs in combat serving in the Iraq War, was one of the leaders of the effort to get the displaced Guard members back into the building.

“Unreal,” she tweeted Thursday evening. “I can’t believe that the same brave servicemembers we’ve been asking to protect our Capitol and our Constitution these last two weeks would be unceremoniously ordered to vacate the building. I am demanding answers ASAP. They can use my office.”

Later Duckworth tweeted, “I meant ASAP when I said it. Just made a number of calls and have been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the Guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight. I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”

Duckworth kept her social media followers updated, concluding with, “Update: Troops are now all out of the garage. Now I can go to bed.”

Other Democratic lawmakers also sprang to action as well.

Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, retired as a captain from the U.S. Navy, tweeted about his efforts to resolve the situation, as did Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland; Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, a former U.S. Army Ranger and veteran tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, a Marine Corps veteran with combat experience in Iraq.

Other Democratic lawmakers offered up their offices for National Guard members to take breaks, have a snack, and rest, including Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers used the opportunity to criticize Democratic leadership and score photo opportunities.

“Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer—why are American troops who are tasked with keeping security at the Capitol being forced to sleep in a parking lot? They deserve to be treated with respect, and we deserve answers,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Thursday evening.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz mocked Schumer’s post about looking into the situation, tweeting well after midnight, “If only we knew the Senate Majority Leader….”

Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina tweeted a video of himself bringing several pizzas to National Guard members in a parking garage, claiming they had been “abandoned & insulted by our leaders.”

Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia took advantage of the photo opportunity the next day, tweeting photos of himself on Friday handing out “Georgia peanuts” to Guard members on break inside the Capitol.

While Republican lawmakers implicated Democrats in the ejection of the Guardsmen, the Capitol Police, reported by Politico to have been ordered it, denied responsibility.

On Friday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said it appeared a single member of the Capitol Police had “issued an order without authority or without going through the chain of command.” He said, “We are going to be able to identify who that person was.”

But Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), a U.S. Army veteran, had words for Republicans using the incident to attack Democrats.

“Any mistreatment of troops guarding the Capitol is unacceptable. Period,” he tweeted. “But perhaps the minority leader and other outraged members of the gop Sedition Caucus can explain more why we need troops in the Capitol in the first place and their own roles in that?”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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