9 p.m. ET Jan. 13, 2021: Biden will no longer be taking an Amtrak train to Washington for his inauguration because of security concerns, a person briefed on the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
1:15 p.m. ET Jan. 13, 2021: The Trump administration has offered President-elect Biden the use of Blair House, the official residence for guests of the president.
Biden has accepted the invitation, The Washington Post reported, but it is unclear whether he will stay there on the eve of his inauguration, or if he has just accepted the invitation for use of the house.
As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office next week, the plans for his inauguration are being firmed up.
While an inauguration is generally an event that sees millions in the nation’s capital welcoming a new president or a second term of the president who is in office, this inauguration will be different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials are planning a scaled-back version of events to honor the incoming president. In fact, people are being actively discouraged from traveling to Washington, D.C., for the ceremony.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., who chairs the inaugural committee, said last week that 80% of the festivities that would normally take place in Washington surrounding an inauguration would take place virtually.
Here is what we know now about how the inauguration of the 46th president will go:
- Biden will take the train from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, D.C., for the ceremony, CNN reported. Biden took that trip daily for years when he was a U.S. senator.
- Biden will take the oath of office at noon ET on Jan. 20, per the Constitution.
- He will take the oath on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, the same building attacked last week. Ronald Reagan was the first president who took the oath on the West Front. Biden will follow that tradition.
- While he will take the oath in the same place, the circumstances will be very different. According to some sources, he will take the oath accompanied by socially distanced members of the military.
- No decisions have been made on whether the official inaugural balls should go forward, the Associated Press reported, or whether the traditional luncheon that follows the swearing-in will take place.
According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a “Pass in Review” will take place in front of the East Front of the Capitol, followed by a presidential escort to the White House and a virtual parade across America. Here, from the PIC, is how those events will look:
Pass in Review: After the official swearing-in ceremony, hosted by the commander of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, Biden will review the readiness of military troops. Every branch of the military will be represented in this event. Participants will be socially distanced.
Presidential escort: Biden will receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House. Every branch of the military will be represented in the escort, including the U.S. Army Band, a joint service honor guard, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps from the 3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard.”
Virtual parade across America: In light of the pandemic, a virtual parade across America will be televised. According to the PIC, the parade will celebrate America’s heroes, highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions, and reflect on the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country as we begin a new American era.”
- Former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama will go with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery shortly after the oath of office is taken.
- Vice President Mike Pence says he plans to attend the ceremony. President Donald Trump says he will not attend the ceremony.
- Nor will Trump invite the Bidens to the White House, a tradition of welcoming of the incoming first family to the White House.
- Politico reported that Trump could leave the White House on Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration. He is expected to go to his home in Florida.
- A 7-foot-tall fence has been erected around the Capitol. The “nonscalable” fence will remain up until sometime in February.
- More than 6,000 members of the National Guard will be deployed in Washington by next week, and they will stay there until next month. The Guard will help authorities handle a crowd of more than 1 million, though they may not see that many at the event, according to the AP.
- The theme for the inauguration is “America United.” The Presidential Inaugural Committee said the theme “reflects the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together, and creates a path to a brighter future.”