Biden Apologises To National Guard Chief After 5,000 Soldiers Slept In Parking Garage
US President Joe Biden has apologised after photos emerged showing that some members of the National Guard were forced to sleep in a parking garage.
This week, more than 25,000 troops were deployed to Washington DC for Biden’s inauguration as a precaution following the violent riots at the US Capitol on January 6.
The conditions sparked outrage among lawmakers on Thursday, January 21, after pictures showed they did not have an adequate place to rest on their breaks.
There was also concern that guardsmen were exposed to car fumes and were without access to toilet facilities after having been on alert for a number of days.
Yesterday, January 22, Biden called the chief of the National Guard Bureau to apologise and rectify the situation.
First Lady Jill Biden also visited the troops to thank them personally, bringing cookies from the White House as a token of gratitude.
During breaks, troops had previously found locations inside the Capitol to sleep. However, an order was given on Thursday requesting officers to vacate congressional grounds and rest elsewhere, as reported by Politico.
The decision has since been reversed, with the US National Guard and US Capitol Police issuing a statement that off-duty troops will be given ‘appropriate spaces’ to rest, as per the BBC.
Senator Tim Scott called the conditions ‘unconscionable and unsafe’.
‘Our troops deserve the utmost honor & respect for securing the Capitol & defending democracy this week. This is unconscionable & unsafe. Whoever’s decision this was to house our National Guardsmen & women in underground parking lots must be held accountable,’ he wrote in a tweet.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offered her office to troops who might like to take a nap on her sofa.
‘Yeah, this is not okay. My office is free this week to any service members who’d like to use it for a break or take nap on the couch. We’ll stock up on snacks for you all too. (We’re in the middle of moving offices and it’s a bit messy so don’t judge, but make yourself at home!),’ she tweeted.
Aside from the obviously poor conditions, fears about the spread of coronavirus have also been confirmed. On Friday, an anonymous US official told Reuters that between 100 and 200 of those deployed had tested positive for the virus.
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