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What to know as Congress honors John Lewis amid a pandemic

Public viewing will be outside on the East Front, instead of in the Rotunda

The military honor guard and Capitol officials conduct a rehearsal for the arrival of Rep. John Lewis’ casket at the Capitol on Sunday, July 26, 2020. Rep. Lewis will lie in state at the Capitol Monday and Tuesday.
The military honor guard and Capitol officials conduct a rehearsal for the arrival of Rep. John Lewis’ casket at the Capitol on Sunday, July 26, 2020. Rep. Lewis will lie in state at the Capitol Monday and Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The ceremonies honoring Rep. John Lewis shift from Alabama to Capitol Hill Monday, though the ceremonies will take an unusual form because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

En route to the Capitol, the Lewis funeral procession is scheduled to pass alongside the National Mall near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

Following the processional across Washington, D.C., Lewis will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, with a ceremony featuring dignitaries scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will lead off the Capitol portion of the program.

Grainger Browning Jr., the senior pastor of Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in nearby Fort Washington, Md., will offer the invocation, with remarks by both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Pelosi.

Presenting wreaths will be bipartisan pairs from each chamber. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., will present the House’s with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Senate presenters will be Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican from that chamber, aand Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., is scheduled to give the benediction at the closed ceremony in the Rotunda.

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Public viewing for Lewis later Monday and all day Tuesday will be unlike any other, since access to the Capitol remains restricted due to the pandemic.

Instead of opening the doors, a public processional will begin at approximately 6 p.m. on the East Front, with members of the public remaining outside and queuing in socially distanced lines.

The viewing is expected to run until 10 p.m. Monday, resume at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and run until 10 p.m.

Oppressive heat is expected in the national capital region both Monday and Tuesday, with a chance of thunderstorms particularly on Tuesday. The Lewis family has already encouraged people to watch the ceremonies honoring Lewis remotely, given the unusual risks associated with large gatherings as the coronavirus continues to spread.

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