No Trump, Masked Crowd & Lady Gaga on Stage: Why Biden’s Inauguration Will Be Like No Other
US House, Senate Reject Challenge to Biden's Win in Arizona
Washington and states across the United States are boosting security by shutting down access to iconic landmarks and erecting vehicle checkpoints at a security perimeter surrounding central Washington ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's January 20 inauguration.
While presidential inaugurations in the US are always tightly secure events, this time security is being beefed up even more in a nation still rattled by the January 6 attack on the Capitol and potential armed protests on Wednesday.
Pro-Trump protests planned at state capitols nationwide got off to a quiet start with only small groups of armed demonstrators gathering in states including Ohio, Texas, Oregon and Michigan.
As the president-elect prepares to take power in a city where only two weeks earlier Trump supporters launched a violent attempt to overturn the election, Biden faces overlapping crises: not only the pandemic but a struggling economy, climate change and racial tensions.
When, Where and What Time is the Ceremony?
Keeping up with the tradition of taking an inaugural oath before officially becoming president, Biden will take part in a scaled-down ceremony that will begin at 11am ET (4pm GMT) on the US Capitol grounds.
An inaugural parade has also been scheduled for 2pm ET (7pm GMT). Over 15,000 national guard troops have descended on Washington for added reinforcements.
Who All Will Attend?
Outgoing President Donald Trump, in a January 8 tweet, made it clear that he will not be attending the inauguration of his successor, breaking a longstanding tradition. Trump would be the first president in more than 150 years, and just the fourth in American history, to not attend the inauguration of the president-elect.
However, Vice President Mike Pence has confirmed that he would be attending the event, in what is being seen as a direct defiance of Trump.
Former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush have also confirmed their presence. Both will be accompanied by the former first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.
Low Key Event
Where Washington is normally packed with hundreds of thousands of supporters, celebrities, socialites and lobbyists, the US capital is eerily quiet ahead of Biden's big day, which promises to be a mostly televised celebration of democracy.
Coronavirus concerns were always going to dampen Wednesday's inauguration, but since departing Trump's supporters launched an insurrection in his name, Washington has ordered a security lockdown unseen since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
That has forced Biden's inauguration team to urge supporters to stay home, auguring a ceremony at the Capitol like recent sports matches, with no fans in the seats.
According to a report in The Guardian, the presidential inauguration committee has planned a nationwide Covid memorial the day before, with planners urging cities and towns to light up their buildings and ring church bells on 19 January in a “national moment of unity and remembrance” in respect of the more than 385,000 US deaths resulting from the virus.
Live from Capitol Hill
As is the tradition, top government officials, justices of the Supreme Court, lawmakers and other dignitaries will gather on the Capitol building's grand west front for Wednesday's ceremony.
Given the social distancing mandate, the crowd is expected to be thinner than usual, and all masked. There will be the traditional invocations and benedictions by church leaders.
In between, Lady Gaga will deliver the national anthem, 22-year-old African American poet Amanda Gorman will read one of her works, and Jennifer Lopez will sing.
At midday, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will give Biden the oath of office, and his vice president Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
But there will be no traditional rousing cheer from a crowd on the mall -- only the fluttering of flags while fans clap to their televisions.
Reversing Trump's Decisions
On Inauguration Day Biden, as previously promised, will sign orders including ones for the US to rejoin the Paris climate accord and reverse Trump's ban on entry of people from certain Muslim majority countries, the Klain statement said.
"President-elect Biden will take action -- not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration -- but also to start moving our country forward," Klain said.