Lawmakers Ask Army to Send Cots for National Guard in US Capitol

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Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor's Center.
Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor's Center to reinforce security at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If images of sleeping National Guard members wedged between statues and using marble stairs as pillows have tugged at your heartstrings, you're not alone.

Two key lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee sent a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Thursday, asking for the service to provide cots to the hundreds of Guard troops detailed to the U.S. Capitol Complex.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Defense appropriations subcommittee senior member Betty McCollum, D-Minn., asked McCarthy in the letter for enough cots for all Guard members assigned to protect the Capitol.

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The troops are pulling 12-hour security shifts, officials have said, and are permitted to rest or sleep when not on duty. They are not forced to sleep at the Capitol, however; they are able to procure hotel rooms under their Title 32 mobilization authority.

Still, the visual of Guard members uncomfortably sprawled out on cold floors in the Capitol Visitor Center prompted legislators to take action.

"After the horrific events of January 6th, the Congress is grateful to have National Guard troops assisting in the protection of the Capitol," the lawmakers wrote. "We were disappointed though to see in a variety of images in the media, that Guard personnel are having to take breaks or rest on the floors of the Capitol. Staff were on the call with Vice Chief of Staff, General [Joseph] Martin, and understand that not all Guard personnel currently have secured lodging, and that the Army is considering utilizing the convention center for lodging."

Officials with McCarthy's office didn’t immediately respond to a query about the letter.

An official with the D.C. National Guard told Military.com on Thursday that there were now just under 7,000 Guard members in the district, and all had secured appropriate accommodations, most of them in hotels.

"Additional options are being considered to accommodate the influx of additional troops for the inauguration," the official said.

The letter does not identify the convention center it mentions, but a National Guard official confirmed that Washington, D.C.'s Walter E. Washington Convention Center is being considered for billeting. The center hosts the city's largest gatherings -- including the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.

Some 21,000 National Guard troops have been authorized to deploy to D.C. ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration from more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia. The presence is expected to remain in place for security through at least Jan. 24.

The mass Guard deployments came in the wake of a Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by a mob supporting President Donald Trump that disrupted congressional efforts to tally and approve electoral votes. Guard members, who were not requested for security ahead of the rally-turned-riot, took hours to receive deployment orders and arrive on Capitol Hill.

"With the uncertainty for needed rest and recoup time in flux, and to ensure that the Guard members are fully able to execute their protection mission, we urge you to make available cots or other equipment to more easily facilitate their ability to rest while they are on Capitol grounds," the lawmakers wrote.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@miitary.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

Related: Guard Troops Photographed Napping in Capitol Were on Break, Army Official Says

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