President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his inaugural team on Monday as preparations continue for the swearing-in ceremony as COVID cases are on the rise.
But organizers are warning the January 20th inauguration ceremony will be different than any in modern history – face masks are expected to be worn and the number of people receiving a coveted ticket to the event will be drastically cut.
As the swearing-in platform is being built on Capitol Hill, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have formed their Presidential Inaugural Committee, a group of people who will organize all the activities around the ceremony.
President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his inaugural team – the committee that will help plan the events surrounding his swearing-in
Tony Allen, the President of Delaware State University (top left); Maju Varghese (top right); Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela (bottom left); and Erin Wilson, the Biden-Harris campaign’s national political director (bottom left) will lead Biden’s inaugural committee
The leadership team consists of women and minorities, keeping with Biden’s vision of having a diverse and inclusive team.
The group will be led by Tony Allen, the President of Delaware State University (DSU), one of the nation’s premiere public historically black colleges and universities; and Maju Varghese, who served as chief operating officer for the campaign and is now moving over to the inaugural team.
Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela and Erin Wilson, the Biden-Harris campaign’s national political director, will also serve on the committee’s leadership team.
The inaugural committee works in coordination with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) around arrangements for the Capitol ceremony.
But they also organize inaugural balls and other events surrounding the swearing-in, which, in the past, have included a concert on the National Mall and a thank-you dinner for donors to the inauguration committee. The committee has to raise funds for the celebrations surrounding the swearing-in ceremony.
The format for any and all events is up in the air however, give then coronavirus pandemic – the United States has seen more than 13 million coronavirus infections and more than 267,000 deaths.
In a statement, the Biden team said their inauguration committee will work with the congressional committee ‘to coordinate all activities surrounding the 59th inaugural ceremonies, prioritizing keeping people safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19 while engaging all Americans.’
The inaugural platform is being built on the West Front of the Capitol
The viewing stands normally hold 1,600 people but organizers are already warning the January 20th, 2020, event will be scaled back
The viewing stand for the inaugural parade is being built in front of the White House
The Biden team also launched a new website to buy merchandise, including hats and t-shirts with the number ’46’ – Biden will be the 46th president. There are also wine glasses and whiskey glasses with the inauguration seal on them and even a pair of Biden-Harris socks.
Shirts and hats cost $30. A pair of wine glasses costs $50. The socks go for $15.
President Donald Trump has not said if he will attend Biden’s swearing-in ceremony.
Asked on Thanksgiving whether he would attend Biden’s inauguration, Trump said he knew the answer but didn’t want to share it yet.
‘I don’t want to say that yet. I mean I know the answer, I’ll be honest, I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say it yet,’ he said.
Outside the White House, however, the viewing platform for the inaugural parade is being built. And the inauguration platform is being built on Capitol Hill, on the West Front of the Capitol, which is the side that faces the National Mall.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who co-chairs the congressional inauguration committee, told CNN on Sunday he expects they will require people to wear masks to the swearing-in ceremony.
He also said he expects a small number of people to attend the ceremony. The inauguration platform can typically hold up to 1,600 people. Additionally, several thousand tickets are usually given out for people to stand around the West front to see the ceremony.
Construction workers build bleachers at the inaugural platform on the West Front of Capitol
President Trump hasn’t said whether or not he will attend Joe Biden’s inauguration
While he wouldn’t give a number for attendees, Blunt set expectations for a down-sized event.
‘I think we hope to be outside again on the west front, but I think we won’t see nearly as many people on either the platform or out there in the space where people get into the secure space that have a ticket to be on the west front,’ he said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
He also said he hopes Trump is there to see Biden take the oath of office.
‘I hope the president is there on inaugural day,’ he noted.
Blunt said he hasn’t spoken to Trump personally but ‘I have certainly encouraged his staff to look at the transition now.’
‘I think there is a big role for President Trump. And I hope he embraces that and looks at how you move to whatever comes next for him, assuming that this election works out the way it appears it will,’ he added.
Trump is still refusing to concede the election.