TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered the Florida National Guard soldiers stationed at the U.S. Capitol to return home.
Gov. DeSantis said he ordered Florida’s Adjutant General to bring the soldiers home Thursday night.
Last night, I ordered our Adjutant General to bring Florida National Guard soldiers home from the National Capital Region.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 22, 2021
The announcement comes after POLITICO, who first broke the news, Washington Post and CNN reported that thousands of National Guard troops were forced to vacate congressional office buildings at the Capitol on Thursday, the order from Capitol Police allegedly forcing them to rest in nearby parking structures.
Friday morning, Gov. DeSantis said he would be making a "major announcement" on Fox and Friends, though he opened his appearance by decrying the images of the National Guard members, saying they are soldiers and not "Nancy Pelosi's servants."
"After everything went seamlessly, we were deemed useless and banished to a corner of a parking garage," one guardsman told CNN on Thursday.
Photos of the troops in the garage also drew outrage from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Thursday night.
Just heard that our troops will be moved back inside tonight. We owe our National Guard and law enforcement officials a debt of gratitude that we can never truly repay. They’ve put everything on the line to protect us. I’m glad to hear they’ll be back indoors tonight. https://t.co/TsNJ30QjCo— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) January 22, 2021
One lawmaker, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), took matters into his own hands and visited the soldiers, bringing them pizza.
I just visited the solders who have been abandoned & insulted by our leaders. I brought them pizza and told them that they can sleep in my office.— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 22, 2021
No soldier will ever, ever sleep on a garage floor in the US Capitol while I work in Congress
Our Troops deserve better. pic.twitter.com/4attFqhRRJ
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), among others, also tweeted about the situation. Just after midnight, she said that all the troops had been allowed back into the Capitol.
Update: Just received text from Guard Commander: the last Guardsmen will clear the garage by 2330 tonight.— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 22, 2021
Update: Troops are now all out of the garage. Now I can go to bed.— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 22, 2021
In a statement sent to ABC News, Capitol Police didn’t seem to address the controversy, instead mentioning a shift from a 12-hour to an 8-hour work schedule.
The full statement from the United States Capitol Police can be read below:
“The United States Capitol Police immensely appreciates the integral support of the U.S. National Guard in helping to secure the Capitol Complex leading up to, and including the Inaugural ceremony. The Department is grateful for their service and our strong partnership during this time.
“The Department’s request for National Guard assistance included a specific number of personnel to allow the National Guard to provide, at a minimum, 12 hours of off-campus rest time for the troops, and understood that this would be carried out throughout their deployment. Recently, the Department requested that the troops’ schedules be changed so they work no more than 8-hour shifts to allow for more off-campus rest time post-Inauguration.
“The Guard is reviewing the request so that logistics and schedules can be adjusted.”
According to the Associated Press, the National Guard Bureau said Thursday that of the nearly 26,000 Guard troops deployed to D.C. for the inaugural, just 10,600 remained on duty.
The Guard also told the AP that it may take several days to make all the arrangements to return the troops home, but said it should be complete in five to 10 days.