Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) offered his office to National Guardsmen late Thursday evening after members were forced to leave the Capitol grounds because of a prior complaint from a Democrat congressman, who allegedly took issue after spotting a maskless Guardsman in a cafe earlier in the day.
“To any members of the National Guard protecting our Capitol — if you need a warm place to rest and recharge, my office is open to you,” Gonzales said late Thursday as pictures began to emerge on social media showing soldiers sleeping in a parking garage as D.C. temperatures dipped into the 40s.
“Mi casa es su casa. Beer & lunch meat are in the fridge, help yourself,” he added:
To any members of the National Guard protecting our Capitol — if you need a warm place to rest and recharge, my office is open to you.
Mi casa es su casa. Beer & lunch meat are in the fridge, help yourself.
— Rep. Tony Gonzales (@RepTonyGonzales) January 22, 2021
The evacuation, forcing troops to a parking garage, apparently followed an alleged complaint from Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA), who reportedly took issue with a National Guard member who was spotted in a Dunkin Donuts without a mask on. Keating reportedly made a remark out loud, stating that masks are required to be worn at all times in a federal building. According to a source, the member responded, “I appreciate my freedom.”
According to Politico, “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.
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said.
Hundreds of Guard soldiers relegated to the Senate garage, breathing in exhaust fumes and covid. Story coming in a bit pic.twitter.com/8OW4frePOh
— Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) January 22, 2021
Guardsmen have since been allowed to reenter the Capitol, according to reports:
WATCH: National Guard troops leave the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage after U.S. Capitol Police temporarily relocated their rest area. Troops have since returned to the Capitol. – @MoshehNBC pic.twitter.com/ZpL1RxbY3a
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 22, 2021
“Absolutely outrageous that this even happened in the first place. Our troops deserve much better than this and I’ll be pressing the proper officials to look into what caused this,” Gonzales vowed Friday morning:
Absolutely outrageous that this even happened in the first place. Our troops deserve much better than this and I’ll be pressing the proper officials to look into what caused this. https://t.co/aE1aoFnolh
— Rep. Tony Gonzales (@RepTonyGonzales) January 22, 2021
Others, including Democrat lawmakers, also expressed outrage. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), for example, offered her office to National Guard members. Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorne (R-NC) brought members pizza and opened up his office as well:
My office is available; the Guard is welcome to it. There is plenty of space in the US Capitol for the men and women keeping us safe. https://t.co/YAUMnRdOrt
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) January 22, 2021
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.
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
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 22, 2021
This is shameful and unacceptable.
After these men and women have spent long, exhausting days defending our nation's Capitol, we are told they were sent to rest in parking garages.
Whoever made this decision must be held accountable.https://t.co/h04y7WC9eP
— Ron Wright (@RepRonWright) January 22, 2021
If this is true, it's outrageous.
I will get to the bottom of this.https://t.co/CNBp055A91
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 22, 2021
There is absolutely no excuse for the Guard to be treated this way. While they are being allowed back in the Capitol for rest, my office has still reached out to the National Guard Legislative Affairs office to get to the bottom of this. https://t.co/aVGRTMGJtj
— Rep. Austin Scott (@AustinScottGA08) January 22, 2021
It’s completely unacceptable that this happened, and Congress needs to make sure this never happens again. Our National Guardmen deserve so much better. https://t.co/WoWdwlDqc2
— Brenda Lawrence (@RepLawrence) January 22, 2021
I cannot thank our men and women of the military enough for their service to our nation. I was shocked by their treatment in DC this week. Whoever is responsible must be held accountable. This should have never happened.https://t.co/KCJN3iH0Dm
— Congressman Michael Guest (@RepMichaelGuest) January 22, 2021
To the men and women of the New York National Guard,
on behalf of New York’s 21st Congressional District,
THANK YOU! pic.twitter.com/dB4eL3vmnG
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) January 22, 2021
As I told our guardsmen and women last night – I will always have your back & this nation thanks you for your service.
— Rep. Haley Stevens (@RepHaleyStevens) January 22, 2021
While this situation has been resolved, it is still deeply outrageous that it happened in the first place. My office is in touch with the CT National Guard to make sure they have everything they need. I’m so thankful to all the guardsmen who are here protecting us & the Capitol. https://t.co/so0y4VmsoZ
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) January 22, 2021
Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott have since ordered their state’s troops home.
“They’re soldiers. They’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants,” DeSantis said during a Friday morning appearance on Fox & Friends.
“And this comes on the backend of them trying to investigate the backgrounds of our guardsmen,” he continued. [In] Florida, we did not let them go into their political beliefs. I thought that was totally inappropriate. I thought it was very disrespectful for people who are clearly patriots.”
“So this is a half-cocked mission at this point and I think the appropriate thing is to bring them home,” DeSantis added:
It was an honor to witness Henry Sayler receive his first dose of the vaccine today. Florida is rapidly approaching a monumental milestone of 1 million seniors vaccinated. #SeniorsFirst pic.twitter.com/JoL6N1ybOH
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 22, 2021