National Guard troops who were brought in to protect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration as president found themselves sleeping in an unheated garage hours after being booted from the Capitol on Thursday, prompting an uproar among lawmakers who scrambled to move them back.
The troops were among the more than 20,000 National Guard personnel who provided security for the inauguration on Wednesday. They were relocated on Thursday afternoon to the nearby Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, said Capt. Edwin Nieves Jr., the spokesman for the Washington, D.C., branch of the National Guard.
“As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area outside of the Capitol,” Captain Nieves said, adding that the relocation was temporary. The D.C. National Guard did not say how many soldiers were being quartered in the garages or how long they would be there.
Two Guard soldiers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that they had been relocated without explanation and that they were without electrical power, heat or adequate restroom facilities. One soldier estimated that there were 1,000 troops sharing one portable restroom outside the garage.
“Zero guidance on mission, length of mission, nothing,” the soldier said.
The soldiers also said that their fellow troops were breathing in exhaust fumes because the garage at the Thurgood Marshall center was still in use for parking.
Captain Nieves said that the relocation was temporary and that the garage had heat and restrooms.
“We remain an agile and flexible force to provide for the safety and security of the Capitol and its surrounding areas,” he said.
Reports of the move prompted protests from lawmakers from both parties, including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. Some offered to house the Guard troops in their offices.
“This is unacceptable and must be fixed,” Senator Mark Kelly, Democrat of Arizona, wrote on Twitter.
On social media, some lawmakers said they were making efforts to move the troops back to the Capitol.
In a tweet, Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said that he had spoken to the acting chief of the Capitol Police about the issue.
The D.C. Guard did not immediately respond to a request on Thursday night inquiring about the effort to move troops back into the Capitol.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon said that 12 Guard soldiers had been removed from their duties at Mr. Biden’s inauguration after officials discovered that they had written texts and social media posts that made threatening comments toward political officials.