APTOPIX Biden Inauguration

A view of the stage on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, ahead of the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool) ORG XMIT: DCSW104

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and Donna Brazile don’t see eye-to-eye on much.

“We don’t even agree on who should be playing on the Saints’ offensive line,” said Brazile, a former chairperson of the Democratic National Committee who is originally from Kenner.

But Scalise, of Jefferson, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, has invited Brazile to attend Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony as his guest, when Joe Biden will take the oath to become the 46th president under tight security in Washington, D.C.

“I thought it would be a good show of unity,” said Scalise. “It’s important we all focus on trying to bring the country back together. We all need to play a role in trying to achieve that.”

“I’m so honored to be a part of this history,” Brazile said, referring to Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, becoming the first female vice president. “The theme of this occasion is America United, and together we will witness the peaceful transfer of power.”

Because of the pandemic, each member of Congress is allowed to invite only one guest.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is attending with his wife, Laura, according to a spokesman.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is going solo, an aide said.

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, of Baton Rouge, was not planning to attend, a spokesman said. His father, John, died on Saturday.

U.S. Reps. Clay Higgins, of Lafayette, and Mike Johnson, of Benton, did not respond to queries on Tuesday on whether they are attending the Inauguration and with whom.

Besides Scalise, Cassidy, Kennedy, Graves, Higgins and Johnson all are Republicans.

Two seats are vacant in Louisiana’s eight-member congressional delegation.

The seat for the 2nd Congressional District, which covers New Orleans and Jefferson Parish and extends to Baton Rouge, is open following the resignation of U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat, who will serve in the Biden White House.

The seat for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, which sprawls from Monroe through Alexandria and Opelousas to Bogalusa, is vacant following the death of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow last month from COVID-19 complications.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is traveling to Washington to attend the inauguration and noted that 174 Louisiana National Guard troops would add to the security.

“This ceremony will mark a chance for a fresh start, new energy and bold leadership to overcome the many significant challenges facing our country,” Edwards said in a statement, which also noted he had worked closely with President Donald Trump and his administration.

Brazile reached out to Scalise several weeks ago to see if he would invite her.

She said she and Scalise have long been friends, and noted she has maintained good relations with Republicans throughout her career, even while chairing the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election and managing the presidential campaign of then-Vice President Al Gore when he narrowly lost to George W. Bush in 2000.

Brazile said she strongly disagreed with Scalise’s votes on Jan. 6 not to certify Biden’s electors – hours after a mob of Trump followers ransacked the U.S. Capitol and threatened lawmakers – and his vote against impeaching Trump. But she said they know how to put aside their differences to work together.

“He’s still in leadership,” Brazile said of Scalise. “Democrats have a slim majority. In order to get anything done, we still have to reach across the aisle, not only on behalf of my beloved home state but also my country. We know each other. We respect each other. We’re both proud grads of LSU. We’re both right now still grieving the loss of the Saints [on Sunday]. We talk sports. We talk family. We never let politics get in the way of checking in with each other. I’m so honored to be a part of this history.”

Said Scalise: “The challenge is over, the certification [of electors] is over. Joe Biden won the election and is going to be sworn in tomorrow.”

Brazile said she would go straight from the inauguration to Fox News' studios to offer commentary on the event. She is a paid commentator for the network.

Also attending will be Marc Morial, who served as New Orleans’ mayor from 1994-2002 and is now president and CEO of the National Urban League in New York. He said he has known Biden and Harris for years.

"It’s about being there to be supportive," Morial said. "And it's about being there to send a message after Jan. 6 that we will not be afraid and not be intimidated in a very important part of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power, which the rioters and insurrectionists tried to interfere with. This is a new start for the nation."

Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat who overlapped with Biden for nearly half of her 18 years in the Senate, will be there. Landrieu splits her time between Washington and New Orleans. She didn't respond to a text.

John Breaux, who served as a Democrat with Biden in the Senate from 1987 to 2005, said he will watch the proceedings on TV from his Washington home.

Breaux noted with approval that U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader from Kentucky, will attend church on Wednesday morning with Biden, a former Senate colleague.

“It’s a sign of being willing to work with both sides of the aisle,” Breaux said, “and recognize that Biden will be the president over the next four years.”

Email Tyler Bridges at tbridges@theadvocate.com.