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President George H.W. Bush lies in state at Capitol

A public funeral service will be held Wednesday at Washington's National Cathedral, with a private funeral in Texas to follow.
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WASHINGTON — Former President George H.W. Bush was honored in a brief ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Monday afternoon shortly after his casket arrived in Washington aboard "Special Air Mission 41," a presidential aircraft temporarily renamed in honor of the 41st president.

The former president, who died Friday at 94, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday.

His casket was placed "beneath paintings that tell the story of our land and liberty ... flanked by statues of his fellow champions," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in remarks in the brief ceremony there Monday afternoon, calling Bush "a steady hand staying the course" over his decades in public service.

Former President George W. Bush, the late president's son, became visibly emotional as McConnell spoke.

The arrival ceremony — held roughly an hour after the flight from Ellington Airport in Houston landed at Joint Base Andrews — was attended by Bush's children, including George, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Neil Bush, Marvin Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch, and his extended family including his grandchildren.

Lawmakers, Supreme Court justices, and Bush Cabinet officials were also in attendance, including former Secretary of State James Baker — who was with the former president in his final moments on Friday — and former George W. Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that Bush, the first president he was able to vote for after becoming old enough to cast a ballot, taught him that "in a democracy, sometimes you fall short" and how you handle that fact "is just as important as how you win."

"President Bush personified grace," said Ryan, who said that the former president reached the heights of power with "uncommon humility."

In brief remarks, Vice President Mike Pence said that Bush's example of loving his family and serving his country "will always inspire" and that his "lifetime of service will be enshrined in the hearts of the American people forever."

Large wreaths were placed in front of each side of the casket as "America the Beautiful" was sung by the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club. The House chaplain, Rev. Patrick Conroy, delivered the invocation, with the benediction delivered by the Senate chaplain Barry Black.

President Trump — who dispatched the plane to Texas pick up the former president, as well as members of the Bush family — and first lady Melania Trump paid their respects at the Capitol later Monday night, around 8:30 p.m., during the public section of the viewing. Trump saluted the casket before walking back out of the room.

Members of the late president's family on board the Monday flight included President George W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush. His service dog, Sully, was also on board.

As Bush's casket arrived at the Capitol, Hail to the Chief was played and a 21-gun salute fired in front of the reflecting pool adjacent to the National Mall. The Bush family stood at the top of the Capitol steps as his casket was carried into the building.

A public service will be held Wednesday at Washington's National Cathedral. Trump has declared Wednesday a federal holiday and a national day of mourning. Prince Charles of England is slated to attend the service to represent the royal family and Queen Elizabeth.

The late president's remains are scheduled to return to Houston later Wednesday to lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, where a private funeral service will be held Thursday.

Afterward, he’ll be transported by funeral car on a train to College Station, Texas — the site of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum — where he’ll be buried alongside his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, who died earlier this year, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3.

McGrath tweeted that the former president will be buried wearing special socks "that pay tribute to his lifetime of service."

Bush long had a notable preference for themed, colorful socks.

On Sunday, McGrath tweeted a photo of Bush's service dog, Sully, lying beside the casket.

"Mission complete," McGrath wrote. Sully will move on to helping wounded military veterans at Walter Reed hospital, America's VetDogs announced on Facebook.

Bush is among the select few who have lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who died in August a little more than a year after being diagnosed with brain cancer, was the last person to lie in state there. Former President Gerald Ford was the last president to lie in state in the rotunda after he died in late 2006. Former President Ronald Reagan also lay there in 2004, as did civil rights icon Rosa Parks after her death in 2005.

Meanwhile, due to the remembrances for Bush, the House will not be voting this week as originally scheduled, multiple GOP sources confirmed to NBC News on Monday. A partial government shutdown looms should Friday’s funding deadline not be met, but multiple sources Monday said congressional leaders had reached an agreement to fund it through Dec. 21 via a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would have to be passed by a unanimous consent voice vote sometime this week.

Trump was originally scheduled to meet with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate — Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York — on Tuesday to discuss the funding situation, but the meeting has been postponed due to plans to commemorate President Bush, according to three Democratic aides. Both Democratic leaders have asked for the meeting to be rescheduled to next week.