Following the relocation of National Guard troops on Thursday to a parking garage, the governors of Texas, Florida and New Hampshire ordered their troops to return home from Washington, D.C.
“They’re soldiers, they’re not Nancy Pelosi‘s servants,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) stated. “This is a half-cocked mission at this point, and I think the appropriate thing is to bring them home.”
Republican Govs. Greg Abbott (TX) and Chris Sununu (NH) joined DeSantis in calling for their troops to return. Both Abbott and DeSantis had previously lodged objections over background checks into National Guard service members.
After providing security during the inauguration ceremony, some Guard members were later ordered to vacate Capitol facilities and sleep in a parking garage at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building. Temperatures dropped to low 40s during the night. Members of Congress were appalled by the decision and demanded that the National Guard members be returned to the Capitol building, with some offering to let the troops sleep in their offices. The troops were eventually moved back into the Capitol.
Spokesman for the Washington, D.C. branch of the National Guard Capt. Edwin Nieves Jr. explained the move by citing a request made by Capitol Police (USCP) following “increased foot traffic” as Congress returned to session. Competing narratives have since been released by Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman. In a statement released on Friday morning, Pittman insisted that the department “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities.”
Thousands of troops have already left Washington after nearly 26,000 were called to secure the event. About 7,000 troops are expected to stay through the end of January to provide support to federal agencies and guard against a possible repeat of the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6.