The body of the longtime congressman from Georgia lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, a spot reserved for presidents, lawmakers, and other dignitaries.
Biden, who served nearly four decades in Congress as a senator from Delaware before being elected vice president, arrived at the Capitol with his wife Jill Biden. The two were joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her daughter Christine as they bid farewell to Lewis.
The Bidens put their hands over their hearts as they stood by the flag-draped coffin, and Biden briefly crossed himself and saluted Lewis. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also twice briefly pressed his palm to the casket. The Bidens spent roughly 10 minutes in the Rotunda.
The Bidens said in a statement after the death of Lewis on July 18 that “it is rare to meet and befriend our heroes. John was that hero for so many people of every race and station, including us. He absorbed the force of human nature’s cruelty during the course of his life, and the only thing that could finally stop him was cancer.”
“John’s life reminds us that the most powerful symbol of what it means to be an American is what we do with the time we have to make real the promise of our nation – that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally,” they added.
The Bidens drove to the nation’s capital from their home in Wilmington, Del. It’s the former vice president’s first public appearance in Washington D.C. since the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation in March. Biden recently returned to the nation’s capital to record an in-person conversation with his one-time boss, former President Barack Obama, at Obama’s offices in the District of Columbia.
Lewis is laying in state through Tuesday. Asked by reporters on Monday if he’d be paying his respects to Lewis at the Capitol, President Trump said, “No, I won’t be going.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Ashley Cozzolino, and Kristina Biddle contributed to this report