The guest list for the presidential inauguration scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. this Wednesday will be scaled back amid both the coronavirus pandemic, as well as beefed-up security measures put in place two weeks after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Like in past ceremonies, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are expected to be sworn in on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, where they will both take their oaths of office.
This year, members of the 117th Congress will be given only a plus-one.
“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” Biden told reporters on Jan. 11, speaking from a hospital in Newark, Del., where he received his second dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
President Trump will be the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson not to attend his successor’s inauguration.
Traditionally, the incoming and outgoing presidents ride to the U.S. Capitol together on Inauguration Day for the ceremony to symbolize a peaceful transition of power.
“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” Trump said in a tweet on Jan. 8, just hours before Twitter permanently suspended his account.
Biden said he was just fine with that, calling Trump’s decision to sit-out the inauguration “one of the few things we have ever agreed on.” Calling the president an “embarrassment” to the nation and unworthy of the office, Biden added, “It’s a good thing him not showing up.”
In a phone call first reported by the New York Times, Vice President Mike Pence spoke with his soon-to-be successor Harris Thursday, offering his congratulations and expressing that he planned to attend the inauguration. Pence defied Trump on Jan. 6 when he refused to intervene in the congressional process to certify Biden’s win.
Biden has said Pence was “welcome to come,” and he’d be honored to have him.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are expected to attend the inauguration in person. The only other living president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has spent the pandemic largely at home in Plains, Ga., will not attend but has extended “best wishes” to Biden, according to a spokeswoman at The Carter Center in Atlanta.
Ivanka Trump is not expected to attend, NBC News reported, citing a White House official.
Lady Gaga is expected to sing the National Anthem. Jennifer Lopez will also deliver a musical performance in person at the West Front of the Capitol when Biden is sworn in.
The offices for Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn confirmed on Friday that both Republicans, representing Texas, planned to attend the inauguration on Jan. 20, the Texas Tribune reported.
Cruz’s decision is a bit unexpected, as he and other GOP senators led a fight to reject the certification of the presidential election results in Arizona unless an emergency voter fraud audit was conducted. Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. — who supported Cruz’s fight — have also said they would attend. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who voted to reject Biden’s electors in the state of Pennsylvania, said he would come to the inauguration – and even urged Trump to join him.
The National Mall – which normally sees thousands crowd in to witness the ceremony – has been closed since Friday, Jan. 15, and won’t reopen until Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration.
The closure has been ordered to ensure safety and security within the area of the National Special Security Event designated by the Department of Homeland Security for the 59th presidential inauguration, according to a statement from the National Park Service, which has been working with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office, Metropolitan Police Department and the United States Secret Service.
Up to 21,000 National Guard troops from around the country have been authorized to help with Inauguration Day security in D.C.
Biden’s inaugural committee announced the lineup Sunday for “Celebrating America,” a multi-network broadcast that will be televised Wednesday night after Biden is inaugurated as the 46th president. The broadcast will be held in lieu of traditional inaugural balls.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote and starred in Broadway’s “Hamilton,” will appear for a classical recitation. Musicians Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato and Justin Timberlake, among others, will also highlight the primetime event billed by the committee as a mix of stars and everyday citizens. Actor Tom Hanks, as well as actresses Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria, will host the event, with former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also scheduled to appear.
The segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsey, the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial.
Instead of a traditional inaugural parade, Joe and Jill Biden will arrive at the White House with a presidential escort consisting of representatives from every branch of the military, according to a D.C. press release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.