US President Donald Trump has declared that an "emergency exists" in Washington DC from now until after President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20.
Trump has 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, 2021".
The declaration allows emergency agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to "co-ordinate disaster relief efforts". Agencies will be authorised to "identify, mobilise, and provide at its discretion" equipment and resources as they see fit.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser earlier sent a letter to Trump requesting the emergency declaration, suggesting additional funding for security was required for Biden's inauguration following last week's attack on the US Capitol.
"In light of the attack on the Capitol and intelligence suggesting further violence is likely during the Inaugural period, my administration has re-evaluated our preparedness posture for the Inauguration, including requesting the extension of DC National Guard support through January 24, 2021," the letter read.
"I have determined that the plans and resources previously assigned to the Inauguration are insufficient to establish a safe and secure environment as a direct result of the insurrectionist actions that occurred on January 6. Based on recent events and intelligence assessments, we must prepare for large groups of trained and armed extremists to come to Washington, DC."
Biden's inauguration will be held in the same spot at the Capitol where the violent, pro-Trump mob descended last week. But the two events aren't even comparable from a security standpoint, said Michael Plati, US Secret Service special agent in charge, who is leading the inauguration security.
The inauguration is designated as a "national special security event," which clears the way for communication, funding and preparation between multiple agencies in Washington, like the Capitol Police, Pentagon, Homeland Security and District-area police. Other such events are the State of the Union, the Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Biden himself has expressed confidence in following through with the inauguration as planned.
"I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside," he told reporters yesterday. "It is critically important that there'll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage - that they be held accountable."
The inauguration will look different from other presidential inaugurations because of last week's riot, with extremely tight security around the entire capital region. At least 10,000 National Guard troops will be in place by Saturday.
Trump is skipping Biden's inauguration, a decision Biden said was a "good thing," though Vice President Mike Pence and his wife plan to attend.
Biden has said unity will be his focus, but the scope — and urgency — of the challenge Biden faces became even clearer after the Capitol siege.
"This inauguration marks a new chapter for the American people — one of healing, of unifying, of coming together, of an America united," said Tony Allen, CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. "It is time to turn the page on this era of division. The inaugural activities will reflect our shared values and serve as a reminder that we are stronger together than we are apart, just as our motto 'e pluribus unum' reminds us — out of many, one."
- additional reporting: AP