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Biden, Harris attend COVID-19 memorial ceremony to remember those we lost

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Biden’s first occasion in Washington Tuesday occurred with a night ceremony close to the Lincoln Memorial to honor the 400,000 American lives lost to COVID-19.

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden made a sober entrance to the nation’s capital Tuesday, prepared to assume energy as America reels from the coronavirus pandemic, hovering unemployment and grave considerations about extra violence as he prepares to take the oath of workplace.

Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak, had deliberate to take a practice into Washington forward of Wednesday’s Inauguration Day, however scratched that plan within the aftermath of the Jan. 6 rebellion on the U.S. Capitol.

He as a substitute flew right into a army airbase simply exterior the capital on Tuesday afternoon and was set to motorcade into fortress D.C. — a metropolis that is been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall which can be wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing.

Shortly earlier than Biden departed for Washington, the U.S. reached one other grim milestone within the pandemic, s urpassing 400,000 deaths from the virus, in accordance to Johns Hopkins University.

“These are dark times,” Biden told dozens of supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware before departing for Washington. “But there’s always light.”

Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who might get issues finished, plans to challenge a sequence of govt orders on Day One — together with reversing President Donald Trump’s effort to leave the Paris climate accord, canceling his journey ban on guests from a number of predominantly Muslim nations, and increasing pandemic-era limits on evictions and scholar mortgage funds.

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Trump will not attend Biden’s inauguration, the primary outgoing president to skip the ceremony since Andrew Johnson greater than a century and a half in the past. Trump remained out of sight within the White House on Tuesday with a naked introduced schedule. Aides mentioned he had recorded a farewell message and was consulting with advisers on final-hour pardons and grants of clemency.

Trump plans to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself.

Biden at his Delaware farewell, held on the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his dwelling state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with mates and well-wishers within the crowd, very similar to an Iowa rope line firstly of his lengthy marketing campaign journey.

“I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” mentioned Biden, who struggled to maintain again tears as he delivered transient remarks.

Aides say that Biden’s first occasion in Washington, together with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, can be to participate in a night ceremony on the Reflecting Pool close to the Lincoln Memorial to honor the 400,000 American lives lost to COVID-19.

Inaugural organizers on Monday completed putting in some 200,000 small U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a show to signify the American individuals who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is restricted underneath the tight safety and Covid restrictions.

It’s additionally a reminder of all of the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths hovering.

Out of the beginning gate, Biden and his staff are intent on shifting shortly to pace up the distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and cross his $1.9 trillion virus aid bundle, which incorporates fast funds to many individuals and a rise within the minimal wage to $15 an hour.

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Biden additionally plans to unveil a sweeping immigration invoice on the primary day of his administration, hoping to present an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million individuals dwelling within the U.S. with out authorized standing. That can be a serious reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration insurance policies.

But Biden’s legislative ambitions could possibly be tempered by the onerous reality he faces on Capitol Hill, the place Democrats maintain slender majorities in each the Senate and House. His hopes to press ahead with an avalanche of laws in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump.

As Biden ready to make his method to Washington, 5 of his Cabinet picks had been showing on Tuesday earlier than Senate committees to start affirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines had been being questioned.

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Yellen at her affirmation listening to urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus aid bundle, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.”

Aides say Biden will use Wednesday’s inaugural tackle — one which can be delivered in entrance of an unusually small in-person group due to virus protocols and safety considerations and is predicted to run 20 to half-hour — to name for American unity and supply an optimistic message that Americans can get previous the darkish second by working collectively. To that finish, he prolonged invites to Congress’ high 4 Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew’s Cathedral forward of the inauguration ceremony.

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As Biden presses bipartisanship, he is additionally dealing with strain from his left to go large immediately, with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party calling on Senate Democrats to assist by casting off the chamber’s filibuster.

“We are glad President-elect Biden is ready to start addressing the desperate needs of the American people and put forth a Covid aid proposal which begins to address the many issues we face,” the progressive teams Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and New Deal Strategies wrote in a memo on Monday. “We hope ten Senate Republicans will support it, but are not holding our breath. The big question is, what happens when Republicans block Biden?”

Ahead of Biden’s arrival, 12 U.S. Army National Guard members were removed from the presidential inauguration security mission after they had been discovered to have ties with right-wing militia teams or posted extremist views on-line, in accordance to two U.S. officers. There was no menace to President-elect Joe Biden, they mentioned.

The officers, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, didn’t say which fringe group the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officers weren’t licensed to communicate publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on situation of anonymity.

Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers James LaPorta, Michael Balsamo, Darlene Superville and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting.

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