During the parliamentary vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi went outside the Capitol to thank the National Guard troops stationed in the complex after last week’s riot and before Biden took office for a week.
Some members of the Capitol National Guard were spotted sightseeing the Rotunda on Wednesday morning, gathering and listening to spokesman Brian Mast, R-Fla., An Army veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan.
The Capitol has been closed for tours for months due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the exception of last Wednesday’s attack, this is one of the few cases in which visitors have taken pictures of the building during the pandemic – they have unique access as they are designated to protect the building and lawmakers.
As lawmakers arrived on the hill in front of the chamber to consider Trump’s second impeachment, a heavy National Guard presence greeted them both outside and inside the building – with some rested, arms outstretched, on the Capitol floor.
Jane Campbell, president and CEO of the Capitol Historical Society of the United States, confirmed to ABC News that troops were not stationed in the Capitol since the Civil War – when the Rotunda was still under construction and open space was used as field hospital.
A defense official said members of the National Guard, filmed in the Capitol, were on vacation, noting that it was not uncommon for domestic or foreign missions to see members taking breaks between long shifts.
There are currently 6,600 members of the National Guard in Washington, and they continue to flow. A defense official said Wednesday afternoon that the National Guard was now authorized to have up to 20,000 guards in Washington for inaugural security and that most could be in the city until this weekend.
-ABC News Luis Martinez and Benjamin Siegel