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National Guardsmen were forced out of the Capitol building to rest in a parking garage

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According to a POLITICO report published Thursday, thousands of National Guardsmen were ordered to leave the Capitol building and rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet and one bathroom for 5,000 troops.

The guardsmen, who had been resting inside the Capitol building between 12-hour shifts, were told they could no longer use the Capitol building as a rest area after protecting the nation’s capital in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration.

“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service,” a guardsman told POLITICO. “Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed.”

After the POLITICO article was published, many lawmakers took to Twitter to ask for answers.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) called the situation “unreal” and offered her office to be used as a rest area for the guardsmen.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted: “If this is true, it’s outrageous. I will get to the bottom of this.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) noted that the Capitol buildings remain closed to the public, “so there’s plenty of room for troops to take a break in them.”

By 10 p.m., Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said the situation was “being resolved” and that the guardsmen would be able to return to the Capitol building later that night.

“Just made a number of calls and have been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight,” added Sen. Duckworth. “I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”

Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, the Guard’s Inauguration Task Force commander, confirmed in a statement to POLITICO that the troops were out of the garage and back into the Capitol building late Thursday night.

The National Guard Bureau said the troops had been temporarily relocated because Congress was in session.

“The National Guard continues to assist and support the U.S. Capitol Police. As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area,” the National Guard Bureau said in a statement. “They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities. We remain an agile and flexible force to provide for the safety and security of the Capitol and its surrounding areas.”

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Five returned rental cars used by Biden’s Secret Service burst into flames

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A bizarre situation involving rental cars used during one of President Joe Biden’s trips has social media and conspiracy theorists busy with speculation.

The day after President Joe Biden left Nantucket for his Thanksgiving holiday, five Hertz rental cars hired by his Secret Service detail burst into flames in the airport parking lot.

The Nantucket Current tweeted out photos and wrote, “The cars were owned by Hertz, and had just been returned by members of the Secret Service who had been using them during President Biden’s visit, sources said.”

A fire “involving multiple rental vehicles recently used by Secret Service agents erupted early Monday morning at Nantucket Memorial Airport,” reported the Current.

According to a statement from Nantucket Memorial Airport, at 5:22 a.m. on Monday, airport staff observed an active fire through the closed circuit TV system in the rental car overflow area. Local fire and police departments responded and contained the fire.

“Something very fishy going on,” one YouTube user commented on the Nantucket Current’s video. “No freakin’ way was this a coincidence. Absolutely no way,” wrote another.

An investigation is underway. The working theory is that the fire started in a Ford Expedition, which was under a safety recall since May due to a faulty battery junction box that has been known to cause underhood fires. The recall affects 66,000 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators manufactured between December 2020 and April 2021.

“We believe these vehicle fires can be traced to a circuit board supplier that changed manufacturing locations during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Ford’s website. “The printed circuit boards produced there are sometimes susceptible to a high-current short.”

“Of the eight fire allegations, six occurred while the vehicle was parked and off, and two occurred while driving,” says the initial March 2022 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the part of the Department of Transportation that investigates car safety issues. Interestingly, the eight vehicles were owned by multiple rental car companies at various locations.

By mid-May, the government had 16 reports of underhood fires in 2021 Expedition and Navigator vehicles. Of those, 14 were rental vehicles and 12 of the fires had occurred while the vehicle was parked with the engine off. Consequently, Ford has advised owners that these vehicles should be parked outdoors and away from buildings.

In an email to Forbes, Hertz confirmed that it was working with the local authorities on their investigation but did not confirm that the Explorer in question had been scheduled for service under the recall.

 

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