Minus Trump, Congress pays tribute to late Rep. John Lewis

The first black lawmaker to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda was remembered Monday as a titan in the struggle for Civil Rights in America, as both parties praised Congressman John Lewis for his steadfast work to win equal rights across the nation.


"Under the dome of the U.S. Capitol, we have bid farewell to some of the greatest Americans in our history," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


"It is fitting that John Lewis joins this pantheon of patriots," as Pelosi noted that Lewis's flag draped casket was sitting on the same funeral bier used for President Abraham Lincoln, after he was assassinated in April of 1865.


“He stubbornly treated everyone with respect and love,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Lewis.

After weekend memorials in his native state of Alabama, Lewis's remains were flown to Washington on Monday morning, and then taken by motorcade on a final tour of the city, going by the Lincoln Memorial where Lewis spoke in the March on Washington in 1963, and a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the slain civl rights leader who worked closely with Lewis.


There was applause on the streets around the Capitol as the hearse arrived bearing the body of Lewis, who was first elected to the Congress in 1986 from Atlanta.


But as the hearse arrived on the plaza of the Capitol, there was only silence as a military honor guard waited to take the coffin up the center steps of the Capitol and into the Rotunda.


During the extended wait - on a very warm and humid day - one of the military honor guard members fainted and toppled to the ground.


He was on his feet a few minutes later, walking under his own power.


At the White House, President Donald Trump told reporters he would not be coming to the Capitol to pay his respects to Lewis.


Lewis had routinely criticized the President, and refused to attend his Inauguration and addresses to Congress.


"We're going to miss Congressman Lewis," said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), a fellow Georgia Democrat.


"Today it's a somber occasion, but it's the due that he deserves from this storied House of Representatives and Senators," Johnson told me outside the Capitol.


“We’ll miss him, on both sides of the aisle.”

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau

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