DICKINSON, N.D. — U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., has joined a growing chorus of lawmakers condemning the decision to move the resting quarters for National Guard troops protecting the U.S. Capitol complex into a parking garage.
In an interview Friday night, Jan. 22, Armstong conceded the soldiers did not have to stay in the garage for very long, but is still calling for an immediate investigation into why they were removed from the Capitol office buildings.
Mote than 25,000 National Guard soldiers have been stationed in Washington, D.C., following the Jan. 6 riot where supporters of President Donald Trump attempted to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Armstrong said he didn't think any North Dakota troops were sent to the garage, and he didn't know how many were asked to go there.
"It's a respect issue," he said, explaining why he wants an official probe into what happened. "It's a terrible mistake."
Armstrong said he didn't know who was responsible for the decision to move the troops but doesn't want it to happen again.
He wrote his objections on Friday in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Other members of Congress have also expressed their concerns to the leaders, as did President Joe Biden.
In his letter, Armstrong said some of the 25,000 Guard members were ordered to vacate the Capitol office buildings and move their rest area to an active parking garage amid traffic and what he described as unlivable conditions.
Armstrong also said the weather in Washington has been cold for the past couple of days. The temperature in the nation's capital was hovering around 40 degrees Friday night.
"Guardsmen unnecessarily faced conditions that included cold temperatures, no internet service, limited restroom access, an enclosed space with vehicles driving through the facility, and cramped quarters during a pandemic," he wrote to the leaders. "While servicemembers often have to endure difficult conditions during deployment, it is a disgrace that Congress failed to provide adequate shelter and accommodations to the Guardsmen protecting the Capitol and the Republic."
Armstong said he didn't think the White House and the new administration had anything to do with the order.
Besides the how and why, he wrote to the leaders that he wants to know what steps can be taken to ensure the Guard troops have proper accommodations for the remainder of the deployment and what steps would be necessary to ensure it doesn't happen again.
He also said the troops should be given an apology.