Joe Biden plans to begin his term as the 46th president on Jan. 20, when he is scheduled to be sworn into office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol amid an inauguration ceremony unlike any other in recent memory.

The coronavirus pandemic has already ensured the transition of executive power will be scaled down and subdued. Now, the Biden administration must also display strength and stability two weeks after a mob stormed the very place where Biden’s ceremony will take place.

Upward of 20,000 National Guard troops are expected to be in Washington before Inauguration Day, according to acting D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III. The Capitol is surrounded by fencing and, in an unprecedented move, the National Park Service has decided to temporarily close the Mall for nearly a week.

President Trump plans to leave Washington on Wednesday morning before Biden is sworn in, according to a senior administration official. Trump is the first president to skip his successor’s swearing-in ceremony in 152 years.

Some events such as a military escort to the White House are expected to occur in a smaller and potentially distant form. Other celebratory components will be virtual, drawing inspiration from the Democratic National Convention’s online event. Here’s a look at what is known so far.

Who is organizing the ceremony?


The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) is responsible for planning the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol on Jan. 20. The theme of the swearing-in ceremony will be “Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union.”

The six-member committee is led by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Biden’s Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), formally launched Nov. 30, is responsible for coordinating and funding the inauguration’s opening ceremonies, parades, galas and balls (if they exist this year). The PIC is led by Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University, who served as a special assistant and speechwriter for Biden during four years of his career in the Senate.

Where will Biden be sworn in?

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris are slated to be sworn in during a ceremony on the West Front of the Capitol, according to the JCCIC.

Biden’s PIC said he will give an inaugural address from the platform that has been built there for the ceremony. Attendance, which will be limited, will include other elected officials.


Will President Trump attend the inauguration?

Last week, President Trump said in a tweet that he will not attend the ceremony. Trump will become the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration since Andrew Johnson decided not to attend the ceremony for incoming President Ulysses S. Grant in 1869.

Trump has spent weeks using the power of his office to try to reverse the results, attacking the integrity of the vote with unfounded conspiracy theories. Traditionally, the outgoing president welcomes his successor to the White House on the morning of the inauguration. President Barack Obama hosted President-elect Donald Trump for tea in 2017 before they traveled together to the U.S. Capitol.

Vice President Pence said that he will attend the inauguration.

Who else may attend the ceremony?

Former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have all said they will attend Biden’s inauguration, as well as first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.


Former president Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalyn Carter will not be in Washington on Wednesday. This is the first presidential inauguration Carter, 96, has missed. A spokeswoman at The Carter Center in Atlanta said the Carters give their “best wishes.”

Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at Biden’s inauguration and Jennifer Lopez will give a separate musical performance.

Will there be the traditional events and inaugural balls?

For the first time since 1949, there will be no inaugural balls. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which for years has hosted inaugural balls, is unavailable for use. It has been transformed into an emergency field hospital in preparation for a surge in coronavirus cases.

Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), chairman of Biden’s inaugural committee, has said that a more complete celebration of Biden’s presidency could occur July 4.

“Hopefully, things will be under control then,” he said on CNN.


Will there be a parade?

The traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue will instead become a virtual “Parade Across America.” It is expected to be like the virtual roll call held at the Democratic National Convention in August.

How can I watch the events?

Wednesday night, there will be a 90-minute prime-time program hosted by movie star Tom Hanks to celebrate the inauguration. The television special will feature Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons and will be broadcast live on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and MSNBC at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. The show will also be streamed on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch, according to Biden’s PIC.

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