The governors of Texas, Florida and New Hampshire said they had ordered their National Guard troops to return home from Washington, D.C., after some Guard members providing security during the inauguration were later told to sleep in a parking garage.
“They’re soldiers, they’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, said on “Fox and Friends” on Friday morning. “This is a half-cocked mission at this point, and I think the appropriate thing is to bring them home.”
His comments came after Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, also Republicans, said they, too, had called for their troops to return.
“They did an outstanding job serving our nation’s capital in a time of strife and should be graciously praised, not subject to substandard conditions,” Mr. Sununu wrote on Twitter on Friday morning.
The governors’ orders were the latest signs of outrage over the relocation of the troops on Thursday to the ground of a parking garage at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building. Members of Congress demanded that the National Guard members be returned to the Capitol building, with some offering to let the troops sleep in their offices. They were eventually moved back into the Capitol, Capt. Edwin Nieves Jr., a spokesman for the Washington, D.C., branch of the National Guard, said on Friday morning.
He said the troops had been moved out of the Capitol on Thursday afternoon at the request of the Capitol Police because of “increased foot traffic” as Congress came back into session, but a statement from the acting chief of the Capitol Police on Friday sought to distance the beleaguered agency from the move.
Chief Yogananda Pittman said that the Capitol Police had not told the troops to leave the Capitol except for certain times on Inauguration Day, and that even then, the troops were encouraged to return to the building by 2 p.m. that day. She said the managers of the office building whose parking lot the troops were using had reached out “directly to the National Guard to offer use of its facilities.”
The backlash from governors and lawmakers comes as many troops were already leaving the city, their mission concluded after President Biden was successfully sworn in on Wednesday. The Pentagon said Friday that most of the nearly 26,000 National Guard troops who had helped secure the event were heading home. About 19,000 troops from all over the country have started packing up and returning to their home states, a process that will take about five to 10 days and include coronavirus screenings.
About 7,000 troops are expected to stay in Washington 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 by supporters of President Trump.