Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take the oath to make them officially president and vice-president, but this will be a much scaled back affair, due to Covid and the recent riots.
The inauguration of a new president is a day that usually follows decades of custom and precedent. A day that follows a routine set in stone. Well, you can forget all that this year.
Here’s everything you need to know about the big day.
What is the inauguration?
The inauguration is the formal ceremony that marks the start of a new presidency, and it takes place in Washington DC.
The only required feature is that the president-elect recite the presidential oath of office.
“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.”
Once he utters these words, Joe Biden will then take his place as the 46th president and the inauguration will be complete (but that’s not all – celebrations follow).
Kamala Harris will become vice-president once she takes the oath of office, which usually happens just before the president.
What time is the inauguration?
Opening remarks are usually scheduled for around 11:30 EST and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in around midday. By law, inauguration day is always January 20.
Joe Biden will move into the White House later in the day – his home for the next four years.
Presidential inaugurations typically involve detailed security plans, but even more so now, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Officials have ramped up security and closed off large sections of the city. The Secret Service has taken command of the security plans, backed up by some 25,000 National Guard troops, in addition to thousands of police officers.
According to recent reports, President-elect Joe Biden will issue decrees to reverse President Donald Trump’s travel bans and re-join the Paris climate accord on his first day.
Joe Biden is also expected to focus on reuniting families separated at the US-Mexico border, and to issue mandates on Covid-19 and mask-wearing.
He will be inaugurated on January 20.
All 50 states are on high alert for possible violence in the run-up to the inauguration ceremony, with National Guard troops deployed in their thousands to guard Washington DC.
According to a memo seen by media, in the hours after Joe Biden sets foot in the White House, he will embark on a blitz of executive actions designed to signal a clean break from his predecessor’s administration.
Among the orders planned soon after taking office are:
Returning to the Paris climate change agreement- the global pact on cutting carbon emissions
Repealing the controversial travel ban on mostly Muslim-majority countries
Mandating the wearing of masks on federal property and when travelling interstate
An extension to nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures due to the pandemic
The executive orders are just one part of his ambitious plan for his first 10 days in office, according the memo.
Joe Biden is also expected to send a major new immigration bill to Congress, as well as focusing on passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to help the country’s economy recover from coronavirus.
The president-elect has also said his administration will aim to deliver 100 million Covid-19 jabs in his first 100 days in office – describing the rollout so far as a “dismal failure”.
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain wrote in the memo: “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.”
Joe Biden is taking over a country in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Daily deaths from Covid-19 are in their thousands and almost 400,000 have lost their lives.
On top of the virus raging, the country is reeling from recent political violence.
The theme for Joe Biden’s inauguration will be “America United”, with the president-elect focusing on healing political divisions. VP Mike Pence is expected to attend the ceremony, though President Trump has said he will not.
Joe Biden will be sworn in exactly two weeks after the violent riots at the Capitol on January 6 which aimed to thwart his election victory.
Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez are to perform at the inauguration ceremony for President Joe Biden.
It is well-known that Lady Gaga campaigned for Joe Biden during the election, appearing with him on the eve of the presidential election last November.
Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the ceremony on January 20. Jennifer Lopez, who also endorsed Joe Biden last year, will give a separate musical performance.
After the ceremony, Tom Hanks will host a star-studded TV special.
Titled Celebrating America, the 90-minute prime-time program will also feature musicians Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons, and will be broadcast live by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and MSNBC.
Joe Biden’s inaugural committee said it would “celebrate the beginning of a new national journey toward an America united” and “showcase the American people’s resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild”.
When Joe Biden is inaugurated, Washington DC will still be under a state of emergency after a mob stormed the Capitol on January 6. More than 10,000 National Guard troops will be in the city, with about 5,000 more on standby.
Otherwise, the ceremony’s attendance will be “extremely limited” in line with social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Biden team, which has urged Americans to avoid travelling to the capital.
Donald Trump announced last week that he will avoid the ceremony after disputing the election result, becoming the first president to skip the inauguration of his successor since 1869.
When President Donald Trump was inaugurated four years ago, 16-year-old former American Idol contestant Jackie Evancho sang the national anthem, while country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood, and rock band 3 Doors Down were among the attractions at a special concert the night before.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stepped up the pressure on VP Mike Pence to act to remove President Donald Trump from office over his role in last week’s storming of Congress.
Lawmakers are expected to bring up a resolution asking VP Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare the president unfit for office.
Mike Pence is said to oppose the idea.
If he refuses, the House will hold a vote to impeach President Trump who had urged supporters to march on the Capitol.
Donald Trump has been accused by Democrats and an increasing number of fellow Republicans over the riot, following a rally in which the president repeated unsubstantiated allegations of vote fraud. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol police officer.
President Trump has made no public statements since he was banned from social media platforms on January 8.
He is due to leave office on January 20, when Joe Biden will be sworn in as president.
Donald Trump has said he will not attend Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.
Nancy Pelosi wrote to lawmakers saying the House of Representatives would present a resolution on January 11 to formally request that VP Pence invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which would allow him to remove President Trump from the White House and become acting president.
The House could vote on the resolution on January 12. After that, Mike Pence and the cabinet would be given 24 hours to act before the House’s potential move toward impeachment.
Nancy Pelosi wrote in her letter: “We will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both.
“The horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”
Although Mike Pence has appeared to distance himself from the president by saying on January 10 he planned to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration, there is no sign that the vice-president is prepared to invoke the amendment.
In a separate development, First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely makes public comments about political events, condemned January 6 violence, saying the “nation must heal in a civil manner”.
Melania Trump said in a statement called Our Path Forward released by the White House: “I implore people to stop the violence, never make assumptions based on the color of a person’s skin or use differing political ideologies as a basis for aggression and viciousness.”
House Democrats have vowed to press ahead quickly with impeachment. To impeach, in this context, means to bring charges in Congress, and Nancy Pelosi said Democrats could introduce a charge of “incitement of insurrection” against President Trump.
Senior lawmakers say a vote to impeach President Trump in the House could be held by mid-week.
Donald Trump could become the only president in US history to have been impeached twice.
Joe Biden has said impeachment is for Congress to decide, even though he has thought “for a long time President Trump was not fit to hold the job”.
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