Democrats squeamish over security for Biden inauguration
- Democrats are scared and angry about the Capitol attack by pro-Trump rioters that left five dead and security briefings reveal could have been far more deadly.
- But they also have no other choice than to put their faith in President Donald Trump’s administration for the holding of a secure inauguration for Joe Biden on January 20th. After all, it’s the lame duck Republican president’s federal agencies overseeing the event.
- While Democrats have universally agreed that Biden must still hold some sort of public inauguration, there have been growing calls to move next week’s swearing-in ceremony inside.
- “This is a moment. He’s got to be sworn in,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Pennsylvania Democrat, told Insider. “I’m certain we’ll meet that moment, but it … shouldn’t look like inaugurations in the past. [It] puts too many people at risk.”
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Democrats are conflicted about President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
They’re terrified for their own safety and for the incoming new leaders of the administration. They’re also still steaming over the brazen Capitol attack that left five people dead and could have been so catastrophically worse.
Contrast that with their aspirations for what January 20th is supposed to signify both in the United States and around the entire planet: Biden’s first big foray into showing the world things can be “normal” again.
Instead he’ll take the reigns of a country that’s divided, terrified, and sick.
Democrats also have no other choice than to put their faith in President Donald Trump’s administration for the holding of a secure event. After all, it’s the Republican’s federal agencies that are overseeing inauguration security. They’re the ones being looked to to come through in their final days to protect Biden and the members of Congress who will actually show up to the scaled-down event.
Making matters even more complicated is the fact Trump has also said he will not attend Biden’s inauguration. Twitter last week warned that the lame duck Republican’s absence could be interpreted by some supporters of the president as a sign it’s “safe” to cause more trouble at the January 20th event.
“I would never ever suggest that it should be in any way delayed. It’s a moment of many symbols, but it’s a constitutional requirement that we do this,” Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Pennsylvania Democrat, told Insider on Tuesday.
“This is a moment. He’s got to be sworn in,” she added. “I’m certain we’ll meet that moment, but it … shouldn’t look like inaugurations in the past. [It] puts too many people at risk.”
Calls to move swearing-in ceremony indoors
Democrats have universally agreed that Biden must still hold some sort of public inauguration.
But there have been growing calls to move next week’s swearing-in ceremony inside. Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented: President Ronald Reagan in 1985 took his second oath of office at the White House because of frigid daytime temperatures in Washington.
“Although the number of attendees for the inaugural have already been reduced due to COVID concerns, I urge you to consider additional options to include moving the ceremony indoors, added security personnel, additional screening, and any other options possible to ensure a safe transition of power,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to her congressional colleagues who are spearheading the 2021 event.
For their part, Biden’s inaugural team on Tuesday said there had been no updates to the inaugural plans they’ve already announced, which includes having Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sworn in on the West Front of the US Capitol.
The Biden team also pointed to a January 7 statement from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies where two of the panel’s chairs, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), stressed that the pro-Trump mob attack on the Capitol “will not stop us from affirming to Americans — and the world — that our democracy endures.”
No doubt the inaugural as planned will look different than previous ones because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden well before the riots at the Capitol last week had been urging Americans to host virtual watch parties and tune into the inauguration online and via television. Echoing that, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday urged Americans to stay away from the nation’s capital for inaugural events.
‘Anger has been my company for the last six days’
Democrats are still shaken by last week’s events especially after being inundated this week with security briefings that have shown mass casualties and violence were planned as part of the Trump-incited Capitol riot.
There’s also a general understanding that security should be heavily bolstered in Washington — but the inauguration still should take place.
Dean was on the House floor during the Electoral College certification debate when rioters forced their way into the Capitol. She was photographed leaving the historic chamber wearing a gas mask alongside her colleagues. Speaking with Insider on Tuesday, six days after the deadly insurrection, she said she’s still upset about the events that transpired last week. And she’s reconsidering her own plans for the inauguration.
“Anger has been my company for the last six days,” Dean said. “I’m pretty mad.”
The Pennsylvania congresswoman said she initially asked her daughter-in-law to be her plus-one for the ceremonies, but she has since asked her to sit this one out. Dean herself has not yet decided whether she’ll go to the event out of fear for her own safety and because of the pandemic. She said that’s a popular sentiment among her colleagues.
Other top Democrats say they’re concerned too.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine on Tuesday told reporters at the Capitol that he isn’t just concerned for Biden and Harris’ safety. He also mentioned Vice President Mike Pence, who was overseeing the certification of electoral votes when rioters made their way into the Capitol.
“I’m very worried about it,” said Kaine, who in 2016 was Hillary Clinton’s Democratic vice presidential running mate. “These attackers meant [Pence] harm just because he performed a very ministerial duty, that there is really no doubt that he needed to perform.”
But other Democrats said they had confidence in the inaugural plan Biden has already put in place.
“The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris should continue as scheduled,” Senator Michael Bennet said in a statement to Insider. “It’s imperative that we ensure the peaceful transition of power and demonstrate to the American people and the world our unwavering commitment to democracy and the rule of law.”
The pandemic had already prompted a scaled back event for many. Tickets are being limited. The inaugural luncheon in the Capitol is gone. A Pennsylvania Avenue parade will be virtual.
For security purposes, Biden’s inauguration was long ago designated a National Special Security Event by the Homeland Security Department. But Washington DC following the Capitol riot remains under an official state of emergency through the final days of Trump’s presidency and with warnings growing of additional armed marches and possible violence in the nation’s capital.
(the headline, this story has not been published by Important India News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)