Those that had been allowed to attend had been instructed to put on masks to protect in opposition to spreading the coronavirus, and so they sat with a number of empty seats between them. A couple of members nonetheless managed to seize a fast fist bump or handshake as Mr. Biden entered, together with Consultant Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican who’s embattled in her personal get together for having voted to question former President Donald J. Trump.
“Individuals can’t see if you happen to’re scowling or smiling — they only can nonetheless see if you happen to’re sleeping, sadly,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, instructed reporters. He deemed it “a really uncommon, I feel, expertise for everyone.”
The rigorously managed calm papered over most of the divisions and wounds nonetheless festering from the final joint session, when 1000’s of supporters of Mr. Trump violently overpowered the police and broke their manner into the constructing as Congress met to formally rely the 2020 electoral votes.
Mr. Biden strode into the chamber by way of the identical doorways regulation enforcement officers barricaded, weapons drawn, because the rioters bore down. A few of the identical lawmakers who voted to overturn his victory had been seated inside, underscoring how badly divided Congress and the nation stay 100 days into his presidency.
Nonetheless, Mr. Biden, a 36-year Senate veteran, went out of his solution to present his ease within the Capitol, joking that he was “nearly residence” being again within the constructing and twice calling out Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority chief, by his first identify.