Biden apologises over troops sleeping in garage
WASHINGTON, Jan 23: US President Joe Biden has apologised after some members of the National Guard stationed at the Capitol were pictured sleeping in a car park.
More than 25,000 troops were deployed to Washington DC for his inauguration after violence earlier this month. Images spread on Thursday showing them forced to rest in a nearby parking garage after lawmakers returned.
The conditions sparked anger among politicians, and some state governors recalled troops over the controversy. Biden called the chief of the National Guard Bureau on Friday to apologise and ask what could be done, according to US media reports.
First Lady Jill Biden also visited some of the troops to thank them personally, bringing biscuits from the White House as a gift. But on Thursday afternoon, after the legislature resumed work a day after the Biden inauguration, someone decided instead to force them out to a nearby parking garage.
Photos that spread quickly over the internet showed troops stretched out under fluorescent lights in parking slots, with few toilets, outlets for charging phones or other facilities. Some members of Congress, noting that many of the troops came from their home states, voiced outrage.
Lawmakers visited the troops and apologized early Friday. Schumer said nobody knew exactly who ordered the part-time soldiers moved to the garage. In the afternoon, first lady Jill Biden also paid a surprise visit to a group of military personnel on duty in Congress, offering them chocolate chip cookies and posing for photos.
Echoing the recriminations over responsibility for letting hundreds of violent supporters of then-president Donald Trump crash the Capitol on January 6, National Guard officials said Capitol Police told them to move to the garage, and the Capitol Police denied it.
They "did not instruct the National Guard to vacate Capitol building facilities," said Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman in a statement. "As of this morning, all Guardsmen and women have been relocated to space within the Capitol complex." -AFP