WPRI 12 News Washington DC Bureau

Officials focus on security for upcoming Inauguration Day after Capitol siege

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (Nexstar/WPRI) — In less than ten days, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president, and authorities are bracing for protests in the nation’s capitol on Inauguration Day.

“The three branches come together, you’re outside both from the ground and the air. There is a lot to worry about,” said Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, head of the congressional committee overseeing the Inauguration.

Blunt says after last Wednesday’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, security will be a lot tighter.

“Frankly, the government is probably more vulnerable at that moment than almost any other moment,” Blunt said.

Monday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asked for additional federal help.

“To protect the district of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experience at the Capitol,” Bowser said.

Bowser says she’s requesting the coordination of all federal agencies to assist with the preparations, including daily intelligence and threat briefings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“We will do everything we can possibly do as we do every four years to ensure that nothing does go wrong,” Blunt reiterated.

Monday, President Donald Trump declared an emergency exists in the District of Columbia and ordered Federal assistance to supplement the District’s response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the 59th Presidential Inauguration from January 11 to January 24.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to alleviate “the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the District of Columbia.”

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion necessary equipment and resources.

Peter Gaynor, the administrator of FEMA, will serve as acting head of the DHS until the Biden administration takes over, after President Trump’s acting head of the Department of Homeland Security resigned Monday.

Gaynor previously ran the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency before taking the helm of FEMA last year.

He named Thomas J. Fargione as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Bowser said this type of designation was granted in 2009 during President Barack Obama’s inauguration, but says this Inauguration Day is different, and the extended time period is different.

“This is necessary because the inauguration poses several unprecedented challenges that exceed the scope of our traditional planning processes. The COVID-19 pandemic and of course the domestic terror attack on the United States Capitol,” Bowser said Monday.

Biden’s inaugural committee says crowds are expected to be a lot smaller with many of events happening virtually, including a parade across America highlighting the theme “America United”.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) says he hopes Americans use the moment to come together.

“It is going to be a historic moment — one our nation needs to celebrate,” said Cardin.

President Donald Trump said last week he will not be attending.

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