Massachusetts politicians to attend Biden’s inauguration despite security, coronavirus threats

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch plans to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. But after the congressman encountered tear gas and terror at the U.S. Capitol just two weeks ago, his wife will “take a pass.”

“Because of the security situation, we sat down and figured that this is probably not something that we want — to be trying to find each other in the crowd if violence does erupt,” Lynch told the Herald. “She’s a big, big supporter of Joe Biden and Jill Biden and she wants to be there, but this is the reality we’re dealing with.”

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation on high alert after being forced into hiding during the Capitol siege have spent the past few days making tough decisions about who will — and won’t — be with them when Biden is sworn in as the 46th president in a city locked down and on edge due to violence.

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating said “it’s important to be here” to support the incoming administration despite security concerns.

Keating detailed a rigorous screening process for lawmakers that includes multiple coronavirus tests amid the added threat of the pandemic. And he described a “fortified” Capitol with “rings of security” he said were lacking on Jan. 6.

Tens of thousands of National Guard troops have flooded the nation’s capital to boost security surrounding the inauguration. But increased vetting by the FBI led to the removal of 12 National Guard members who were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups, officials told the Associated Press.

“We’re cognizant that this is a different threat,” Keating said. “In other inaugurations, there were concerns that foreign terrorists might target this day of transfer of power for our country. Now there’s also a clear understanding of the domestic threat.”

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton, Jake Auchincloss, Lori Trahan, and Richard Neal all plan to attend the inauguration. The offices of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley did not respond to requests for comment. Pressley went into quarantine last week after her husband tested positive for COVID-19.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern will attend the ceremony with his wife, according to a spokesman, who said the congressman “has received regular briefings on the security measures being taken, and he has the utmost confidence that everything that can be done is being done to make sure the inauguration goes off without a hitch.”

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