(The Center Square) — Missouri’s senior U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt is guaranteeing a “secure operation on the ground and in the air” when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States next week.
Blunt can offer that guarantee because he is among those in charge of the Jan. 20 inauguration in front of the same Capitol building breached Jan. 6 by supporters of President Donald Trump in an attempt to derail the procedural confirmation of Biden’s Electoral College victory.
As Senate Rules Committee chair, Blunt leads the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
In that capacity, Blunt has been overseeing arrangements for the inauguration, a responsibility that has now taken on added concerns in the wake of last week’s violence and continued calls by Trump supporters for upheaval in Washington beginning next weekend.
“We’ll have the kind of secure operation on the ground and in the air that we had four years ago and I think everybody will have a greater appreciation for how challenging it is to get this done this year than they may have ever had before,” Blunt told Missourinet Radio. “I’d really like it if we were inaugurating the person that I voted for, but I’m going to respect the fact that the Constitution and the process work.”
Blunt said in the days that followed the Capitol seizure, he’s been working with Capitol police and reviewing FBI intelligence reports on what to expect next.
Because of COVID-19, Biden’s inauguration will be restricted to 3,000 attendees. Usually, about 200,000 people come to Washington for the inauguration.
“It’s the right decision” to hold Biden’s inauguration at the same place mobbed by Trump supporters last week, Blunt said.
“We will be outside and just as it was important to return to the Capitol as quickly as we could to the Senate and House Chambers, (after the Jan. 6 seizure) it is also important to send that message around the world that while we are dealing with a pandemic that our Democracy moves forward,” he told Missourinet.
Blunt has not shied away from blaming Trump for the seizure.
“The storming of the Capitol by these rioters was outrageous and very harmful to our position around the world,” he said. “I’m sure our adversaries loved seeing those films and pictures all over the world. It was a big day for them and a poor day for us.”
Blunt had been talking with the president’s staff about Trump attending Biden’s inauguration before the president announced he would skip it. Blunt does “not have any argument with (Trump’s) decision on this.”
Missouri’s junior U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, the first senator to announce he’d file objections to Biden’s Electoral College win, has been widely excoriated in calls for his resignation, blasted by campaign backers, denied a pending book deal and denounced by his mentor, former three-term Missouri U.S. Sen. John Danforth.
But Blunt is not among Hawley’s critics.
Hawley “has a job to do just like I do and I’m sure he’ll do it. He’s very smart and I’m pleased to get the chance to work with him. We did not agree on this issue the day he announced this challenge,” Blunt said. “I think it’s time to move on and remember, half of the Republicans in the House of Representatives had a similar position.”
Blunt said Trump’s insistence he won an election he lost will shade his legacy.
“Frankly, I think he has already paid a big price for keeping on the (election) topic and not allowing us to talk about many accomplishments he’s had as president,” he said.