The invitations have been scaled back by the pandemic and the security has been heightened due to the Capitol riot, but Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the United States next week will still have plenty of pomp.
The National Mall will be shut down to keep people away, so we will all be spared another comparison of crowd sizes, especially since Trump’s Twitter handle has been turned off. The threat of violent protests from election-denying Trump supporters and the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops will keep anyone from forgetting Trump’s turbulent leadership, or lack thereof.
The FBI has warned of armed protests in all 50 state capitals and the TSA is moving to restrict guns in checked baggage.
Here are other key things to know about the event:
What’s different this year? A lot. Biden had planned to make a statement by arriving in Washington by Amtrak from Wilmington, Delaware, where the train station bears his name — a testament to the days when he was a senator and used to make the round-trip home to be with his kids. That’s off. He’ll stay the night before in Blair House, across from the White House, instead of a hotel.
Normally, members of Congress get a raft of tickets to distribute at will. This year they each get a +1. The public is being encouraged to stay away and the National Mall will be shut down. There will be no public parade from the Capitol to the White House, but instead a virtual parade bringing in people from around the country.
The inaugural balls — usually there are multiple and the new president makes a short appearance at several — will be replaced by a produced TV show featuring stars like Hanks along with Justin Timberlake. This will feel very much like the Covid inauguration.
What will Biden say? Pay special attention to how Biden references his predecessor, soon to face an impeachment trial, during his inaugural address.
Who will be at the actual inauguration ceremony? All the normal VIPs, incoming and outgoing Cabinet members, lawmakers and Supreme Court justices are likely to attend, as is outgoing Vice President Mike Pence. Trump will not. It’s rare, but not unheard of, for a president to skip the transfer of power.
Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga will add some show-biz glitz to the ceremony, which will still take place at the West Front of the US Capitol, looking out on an empty Mall, a show of defiance to the people who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, maybe. But also a reminder that this is a very singular beginning to a new administration. Read more.