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Montana governor orders Guard back after they slept outdoors

January 22, 2021 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Greg Gianforte said he requested Friday that National Guard members deployed to Washington, D.C., for President Joe Biden’s inauguration return to Montana after finding out that troops were sleeping outdoors.

“Like many of you, I saw the images and read the reports that thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to leave the Capitol building and were sent outside or to parking garages to rest. Some had no heat or access to facilities. This is no way to treat men and women in uniform,” Gianforte said during a news conference, calling it “a national disgrace.”

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The National Guard said it moved troops out of the Capitol Rotunda and other spaces to parking garages at the behest of Capitol Police. The Guardsmen were allowed back inside after reports were widely shared of the conditions in the garages, with few bathrooms and little covering from the cold.

Montana sent 150 Army National Guard soldiers to the nation’s capital to help provide security for the inauguration Wednesday. They joined about 25,000 Guard members from dozens of other states.

Gianforte said he instructed the soldiers to return to Montana after the inauguration took place without incident.

In December, when Gianforte was a congressman, he supported a failed Texas lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the results of the presidential election in four states won by Biden. A day after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop Congress from certifying the election, Gianforte said he was glad lawmakers reconvened that night to finish the work.

On Friday, Gianforte congratulated Biden and said he would work with him on shared priorities, while criticizing some of his early executive actions, including a decision to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have passed through Montana and carried oil from Canada to Texas.