Neither Homeland Security nor the FBI, both agencies in charge of spearheading the special security event in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day, immediately made announcements Wednesday after Biden was sworn in outside the U.S. Capitol regarding how long a heightened militarized presence would remain in the downtown area now that the ceremony has ended.
An official with the Department of Defense declined to comment on the matter, referring Fox News to Homeland Security or the FBI to disclose information about lowering the security presence.
More than 25,000 National Guard members from all 50 states, three territories, and Washington, D.C., were supporting federal and district authorities at the 59th presidential inauguration Wednesday, according to the latest figures released by the National Guard Bureau.
Homeland Security was working with all of its 200 partners, including National Guard troops, as well as at least 14,000 law enforcement officials and 5,000 Department of Defense employees.
National Guards walk to the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Hours before President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris officially took their oaths of office, National Guardsmen from across various U.S. states and territories provided security and traffic control in and around the U.S. Capitol and National Mall.
The U.S. Secret Service said its agents were in “full swing,” as the trimmed-down guest list, including members of Congress, as well as former presidents and first ladies Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and George and Laura Bush, began arriving to attend the ceremony held outdoors at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.
Amid the heightened security downtown, there were no major protest gatherings. The National Mall remains on lockdown, and Fox News learned that two protests that were planned within the secure zone were scrapped by the Parks Service before the inauguration began.
There was a no-drone zone in effect in or around the Washington D.C. area on Inauguration Day. Bicycles, toy guns, aerosols, animals — except for service and guide animals — and backpacks exceeding a certain size were included on an extensive list of prohibited items shared by the U.S. Secret Service.
Biden, sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, delivered a speech during the event downsized due to the pandemic before the ceremony ended. He, accompanied by this wife Jill Biden, headed inside to be presented gifts by congressional leadership. Biden, Harris and each of their respective spouses stood outside on the steps to formally inspect the troops parading by them.
“There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” Biden wrote in his first tweet after officially taking office. “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.”
The new administration then headed to Arlington National Ceremony for another ceremony.
Instead of a traditional inaugural parade, Joe and Jill Biden eventually will arrive at the White House with a presidential escort consisting of representatives from every branch of the military. A small parade will still take place in the District of Columbia – though the new president will not be there in-person–, and a Howard University band was seen gearing up in the street with law enforcement monitoring.
The 59th presidential inauguration was designated as a National Special Security Event (NSSE) on Jan. 13 after the Department of Homeland Security received multiple requests, including from Congress and the D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to extend the period of the NSSE up to a week in advance of Jan. 20. The measure was initiated after rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Homeland Security Acting Secretary Peter Gaynor said the designation for that period of time “allows the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear in the development of event security and incident management plans to ensure the safety of all participants.” His statement did not say how long after Jan. 20 the event would be set in place.
“It has been my honor to lead the men & women safeguarding our country as the Acting Secretary of DHS,” Gaynor said in a statement Wednesday, adding, that he and David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), “are committed to ensuring the Department’s focus remains on securing the homeland while overseeing an orderly transition to the new administration.”
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this event.