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What we know so far about Joe Biden's Covid-compromised inauguration plans

Biden will take the oath of office next week, but not much else will be the same.

PastedImage-64060 Jill Biden (l) and her husband Joe (right) the President-elect. Source: Twitter/BidenInaugura

THE LAST WEEK has been among the most unprecedented of weeks in US political history. The next week is likely to be similar but exactly how so would be foolish to predict.

What we do know is that the US will see its 46th president inaugurated on Wednesday week, and its first-ever female vice president also take up office.

Other firsts we may see include a president being impeached for a second time, or indeed being removed from office using the 45th amendment.

But what will Biden’s inauguration look like in Covid-19 times?

What time will Joe Biden officially be the US president? 

By law, inaugurations take place on 20 January and we can expect the actual swearing in at about 5pm Irish-time. Vice presidents are traditionally sworn in first so expect Kamala Harris to raise her right hand before Joe Biden.

Opening remarks for the inauguration are scheduled from 11.30 am (4.30 pm Irish time).

All that’s actually officially required for the inauguration of a president is for them to take the oath of office, which is: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Famously, when Barack Obama was being sworn in in 2009 Chief Justice John Roberts messed up his lines and Obama, repeating them, therefore did the same.

Obama then retook the the oath again later that day out of “an abundance of caution”

Source: Associated Press/YouTube

How will Biden’s inauguration be different due to Covid-19?

Biden’s swearing will still take place on the steps of the US Capitol building but the President-elect’s team are encouraging people not travel to Washington. 

Four years ago Trump raged against the comparisons between the crowd his inauguration drew and Obama’s, but there will be no such comparisons this year. 

An estimated two million people came to witness Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 and typically up to 200,000 tickets are usually available for the seated and standing areas near the stage. 

This year organisers are allowing just over 1,000 tickets, one for each of the 535 members of Congress and one guest each.

Without the crowds that would usually be in attendance, the Biden Inaugural Committee is seeking to have people represented in a different manner. 

The committee has announced plans for a public art display that will feature 191,500 US flags and 56 pillars of light, to represent every US state and territory.

The “Field of Flags” is meant to represent “the American people who are unable to travel” to the Capitol to celebrate his swearing-in.

The committee has today announced that the theme of the inauguration will be ‘America United’ but as yet we do not know who will be performing at the event. 

Four years ago, Trump’s inaugural committee had struggled to secure performers, with an E Street Band cover act even pulling out ahead of the event.

Trump of course has also stated that he will not be at the inauguration, making him the fourth outgoing president in history to snub his successors’ inauguration and the first in 152 years.  

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After last week’s attack on the Capitol, will there be beefed up security at the inauguration? 

According to the Associated Press, roughly 6,200 members of the National Guard from six states — Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland — are being drafted in to help Capitol Police over the next few weeks. 

Security at the inauguration is actually overseen by the Secret Service and it is designated as a National Special Security Event. 

This means that security at the inauguration is at the same level as events such as party conventions or when a dignitary lies in state at the Capitol.

Congressional sittings, like last week’s that was the subject of an attack, do not receive the same high level of security. 

Biden told reporters last Friday that he has “great confidence in the Secret Service” and their ability to make sure the inauguration ”goes off safely.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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