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WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their spouses have arrived at the US Capitol.
The Bidens ascended the Capitol steps hand-in-hand, as did Harris and husband Doug Emhoff, entering the seat of American democracy two weeks to the day after it was besieged in a bloody riot that left five people dead.
Also on hand for the event are former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who Biden served as vice president for two terms, as well as former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.
The political power couples were introduced onto the Capitol balcony one by one, as the US Marine Band played.
Additionally in attendance are former Vice President Dan Quayle — who served alongside the late President George H. W. Bush — congressional lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and some of the black-clad Supreme Court justices, among them Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who will swear in Harris.
Though the political stars were out, Biden will be sworn in over an empty Washington, DC, with the coronavirus and heightened security conspiring to restrict crowd sizes.
The former vice president will take the oath of office at noon outside a heavily fortressed US Capitol and empty National Mall amid unprecedented security fears in the wake of this month’s deadly Capitol siege.
The bible used for his swearing in that has belonged to the Biden family for more than a century. The giant heirloom dates back to 1893 and is the same bible that Biden used when he was first elected to the US Senate in 1973.
A small group of onlookers are in attendance, including lawmakers, Biden’s family, outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and a number of past presidents, while the absence of President Trump will loom large.
The outgoing commander in chief skipped town at 8 a.m. with a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, becoming the first president since 1869 to skip his successor’s inauguration.
A staggering 25,000 National Guard troops have also flooded the nation’s capitol amid fears of further attacks in the wake of the Capitol siege which saw five people killed when a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed Congress.
Replacing the hundreds of thousands of joyous onlookers who traditionally flood the National Mall is a sea of American flags which would be illuminated for the next two days.
The display represents all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the United States’ five permanently inhabited territories.
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