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At the ceremony, the president joked to congressional leaders he was confident the nominations would be handled "at great dispatch."

Sen. Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOPINION | 5 ways Democrats can win back power in the states THE MEMO: Trump's base cheers attacks on McConnell It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (D-Nev.) also appeared to snag one of the ceremonial pens being used to sign the official nominations. Observing the move, the president offered Reid a pen from his jacket pocket instead.

The White House also announced that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiHouse approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees Shulkin confirmed to lead Dept. of Veterans Affairs MORE would be the Cabinet official sitting out the inaugural festivities, a security precaution taken for large collections of top leaders. Shinseki is sixteenth in the presidential line of succession, above only Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Obama also signed a proclamation to commemorate the inauguration while at the Capitol.


—This post was updated at 12:50 p.m.