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Capitol Hill ceremony to honor Bush offers bipartisan moment

In a deeply divided political climate, Washington witnessed a rare moment of unity on Monday as lawmakers fr...

Posted: Dec 4, 2018 1:05 PM
Updated: Dec 4, 2018 1:05 PM

In a deeply divided political climate, Washington witnessed a rare moment of unity on Monday as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came together to remember George H.W. Bush.

The Republican former President died on Friday at the age of 94. On Monday, his body was brought to the US Capitol rotunda where Bush will lie in state until Wednesday morning, an honor reserved for government officials and military officers.

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Democrats and Republicans remain locked in a standoff over funding for President Donald Trump's border wall that could trigger a partial government shutdown in the coming days and Washington is still reeling from a divisive midterm campaign season where the leaders of both parties were targets and Trump frequently went on the attack on the campaign trail.

But for at least a few hours, the two parties appeared to put their political differences aside.

As crowds began to gather outside, a ceremony was held inside the rotunda where Capitol Hill's highest-ranking Republican and Democratic lawmakers joined together in paying tribute to the former President.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stood side-by-side as a wreath was placed alongside the casket. In another image of unity, House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi did the same several minutes later, standing next to one another as a second wreath was placed.

Pelosi, who is vying to become House speaker when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in the new Congress, stood next to Kevin McCarthy, who will serve as the House Republican leader in the next Congress, as lawmakers filed in at the start of the event and the two could be seen speaking to one another.

Earlier in the day, McConnell and Schumer both gave speeches on the Senate floor praising the former President.

"He embodied the characteristics we admire in a president: integrity, civility, dignity, humility," Schumer said during his speech. The Senate Democratic leader added, "I knew him to be a fine man. A decent man. And even when he opposed your views, you knew he was doing what he thought was best for the United States of America."

A long list of prominent current and former officials gathered inside the rotunda to pay their respects.

Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech. Prominent former lawmakers, including former Senate Majority Leader Republican Bill Frist, were seen at the Capitol as were sitting Supreme Court justices, including Clarence Thomas, who was nominated to the bench by Bush.

Outside the Capitol, a long line of people waiting to pay their respects to the 41st President began to form early in the evening. Starting at around 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday, members of the public began to be allowed into the rotunda to view the casket.

Joe McGarvey, a 62-year old Democrat, was one of the people who waited in line to pay his respects to what he described as "a man who gave a life of service to the country."

"I'm a Democrat, but as President, he did a lot of good things," McGarvey said during a brief interview. He described Bush as a "very humble, caring person -- you could tell, just how he treated people."

As McGarvey waited, the temperature began to drop. "It's getting a little cold here," he said, "even though I'm standing out here in the cold, I'm glad I did it."

Stephen Keblish and Nate Crossett from Utica, New York said they had driven down to Washington, DC that morning.

Keblish described it as a "once in a lifetime kind of opportunity."

"It's a sort of pilgrimage in a way. There aren't a lot of opportunities for ritual in this day and age especially as a country so I wanted to partake in something like that," he added.

Christine Dube, who lives in Vermont, but travels to DC periodically for work, said she believes Bush was from an era where people did "the right thing and you care about America and that comes first."

"I think maybe people need to start thinking about that a bit more," she said, "following that set of values, not fighting with each other, agreeing to disagree, doing what we're supposed to do, take care of each other ... not be at odds with each other all the time."

"Our country needs to come together," Dube said, adding, "Regardless of what your political views are, I think everybody at heart wants to see our country do well."

Among those also paying respect Monday evening: the President and first lady Melania Trump, who stood in front of Bush's casket in the Rotunda at around 8:30 p.m. ET.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
Lafayette507393
Lamar496465
Washington4877124
Bolivar4068109
Oktibbeha401681
Panola378380
Pontotoc372155
Monroe3628105
Warren3619101
Union350563
Marshall349569
Neshoba3433152
Pearl River3380104
Leflore3079108
Lincoln300687
Sunflower289272
Hancock285360
Tate276762
Alcorn268854
Pike266580
Itawamba266261
Scott253448
Yazoo250156
Prentiss249552
Tippah245850
Copiah244549
Coahoma243654
Simpson240069
Leake234367
Grenada221171
Marion218473
Covington216972
Adams210170
Wayne206432
Winston205267
George202739
Attala195761
Newton195745
Tishomingo192461
Chickasaw186144
Jasper176038
Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
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