Biden's Inauguration Ceremony Updates: Exact start time, List of Performers, Security Measures
|Photo: Al Jazeera|
The world's eyes will be on the nation's capital as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office as the country's 46th president. Per the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Inauguration Day is set for January 20 every four years - that's a Wednesday in 2021. The theme of this year's inauguration is "America United," an issue that's long been a central focus for Biden but one that's taken on added weight in the wake of the violence at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.
What time will Biden's inauguration start?
The inauguration is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Jan. 20, on the west front of the US Capitol.Opening remarks are usually scheduled for around 11:30 EST (16:30 GMT) and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in at midday. The president-elect is required to take the oath of office before assuming duties. Following the presidential swearing-in ceremony, Biden will deliver his inaugural address.
Celebrations will begin earlier
In advance of Inauguration Day, the Biden inaugural committee has planned a handful of events. They'll begin with America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America’s Changemakers on Saturday, January 16. The 90-minute broadcast—to be streamed on bideninaugural.org and on Presidential Inaugural Committee social media accounts from 7 to 8:30 p.m.—will feature appearances from actors Whoopi Goldberg, Nik Dodani, Darren Criss, and Cristela Alonzo, as well as Representative Grace Meng, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and the Resistance Revival Choir. Grammy-nominated group Black Pumas will perform.
Then on Monday, January 18, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the committee is hosting United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service. Volunteers across the country will celebrate by taking part in a National Day of Service, and a one-hour event featuring Aloe Blacc, Reverend Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, Chesca, Representative Sharice Davids, Rosario Dawson, Andra Day, Yo-Yo Ma, Reverend Al Sharpton, Sean Patrick Thomas, Diane Warren, Lynn Whitfield, and Bebe Winans will stream from 8 to 9 p.m. on bideninaugural.org and the committee's social pages.
The following day, the committee has planned a Memorial and Nationwide Tribute to Remember and Honor the Lives Lost to Covid-19. A ceremony will take place in D.C. at 5:30 p.m., featuring lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and cities and towns across the U.S. are invited to join by holding their own commemorative ceremonies.
In addition, to symbolize the Americans who cannot attend the event in-person due to the pandemic, a public art display titled "Field of Flags," composed of about 191,500 U.S. flags, will be on view at the National Mall from 3rd Street to 13th Street. Clyburn has told CNN that it was possible more celebrations would be planned for the summer, when the threat of the pandemic might be less salient—perhaps near July 4th. "Hopefully, things will be under control then," he said.
What measures would be taken to ensure security during the inauguration?
Tall fences topped with thick, spiraling razor wire encased the US Capitol area on Friday, as thousands of heavily armed National Guardsmen stood to watch. Bridges leading into the city will be closed beginning this weekend. Access to the grounds will be highly restricted. In many ways, the lead-up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden more resembles the visit of a head of state to a military encampment in a warzone than it does the swearing-in of the president of the United States at the building housing the nation’s legislature, said Al Jazeera.
This year’s festivities will differ in three key and unprecedented ways, according to experts: First, the city is locked down in anticipation of more violence after the attack on the Capitol building last week by armed supporters of President Donald Trump. Second, Trump has refused to attend the ceremony, still smarting from his loss and insisting the election was stolen. Third, the inauguration festivities will be broadly downsized to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as the country still struggles to contain the deadly pandemic.
The US capital city is already highly fortified several days out from the main event. Throngs of National Guardsmen have been sleeping on the floor of the Capitol building as their compatriot's guard fenced roadblocks around the premises alongside large beige military trucks. Officials have announced that as many as 25,000 of these troops will be available to secure the event, not to mention stepped up forces from the FBI, US Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department and US Capitol Police. Essentially all vehicular traffic into and out of downtown Washington, DC, and around the National Mall and the monuments will be shut down through Thursday, including several main bridges that serve as arteries back and forth from Northern Virginia across the Potomac River and southern Maryland across the Anacostia River.
The FBI has warned of armed protests at state capitols across the US and in Washington DC in the days leading up to the inauguration, prompting officials to ramp up security and close off large sections of the city.
A rehearsal for the ceremony due to take place on Sunday was postponed due to security concerns, Politico reported, and is now scheduled to happen on Monday.
Meanwhile, a planned 90-minute train ride by Mr Biden and his team from his offices in Delaware to Washington on Monday has also been shelved amid security fears, the Associated Press reported.
Mr Biden has asked former President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, to work as a temporary adviser on security for the inauguration. Ms Monaco is Mr Biden's nominee for deputy attorney general.
Washington DC is already under a state of emergency - an order put in place by Mayor Muriel Bowser amid the riots at Capitol Hill - and will remain that way through inauguration. On Friday, she also noted that the inauguration is not the only location that has been the subject of online threats.
Agent Matt Miller, who is leading the security effort on behalf of the Secret Service, told reporters on Friday that planning for the event has been going on for over a year.
And while Mr Biden has insisted on taking the oath of office outside, as is tradition, attendance will be scaled back.
Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez to perform
Inauguration officials announced that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend, and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, and Ant Clemons, said AP.
Celebrity performances include:
Lady Gaga, singing the national anthem
Jon Bon Jovi
Politicians and religious leaders -- including archbishops, pastors and rabbis -- also usually give speeches.
Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition’s quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual.
But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin, and many others.
Former Presidents confirm their attendance
President Donald Trump announced in early January that he intends to skip Biden's inauguration. Traditionally, the incoming and outgoing presidents ride to the U.S. Capitol together on Inauguration Day for the ceremony, a visible manifestation of the smooth change of leadership. Vice President Pence will attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, a person familiar with his decision told ABC News.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton will be there to stand witness to the rite of democracy. The only other living president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, who has spent the pandemic largely at home in Georgia, will not attend but has extended "best wishes" to Biden.
After the inauguration, the Bidens, Harrises, Obamas, Bushes, and Clintons will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. It will be one of Biden's first acts as president, and a show of bipartisanship at a time when the national divide is on stark display.
The inauguration will begin at 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday, January 20, but coverage will begin earlier in the day. Every major news network, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC, is expected to broadcast the event live.
Later that day, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC—but not Fox or Fox News—will air the inaugural committee's 90-minute television special live. Per CNN, the special will also stream live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and Amazon Prime Video.
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