What happens during US Inauguration Day?

Despite riots at the Capitol and Donald Trump – the incumbent president – insisting Biden’s election victory was the result of fraud, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are to be the President and Vice President.

Biden has committed to bringing ‘national healing and unity’ to the nation after he is sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States.

When Biden is sworn in, he will be doing so to smaller crowds than usual – because of coronavirus restrictions and because Trump has confirmed he will not be attending, making him the first (living) president to skip his successor’s inauguration in over 150 years.

What happens at the inauguration and will it be shown on TV?

What happens at the US inauguration?

The inauguration is the formal ceremony that marks the start of a new presidency.

Trump’s absence will not affect proceedings.  

The only legally required feature of the day is when the president-elect recites the presidential oath of office.

The oath goes: ‘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.’

ABC News reports that Biden will be sworn in on a Bible that has been in his family since 1893—the same one he used during his vice presidential swearing in ceremonies.

Madam Vice President Harris will be sworn in on two Bibles, one belonging to Regina Shelton, a person important to she and her sister, and another belonging to former Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.

The exiting president would usually attend and swap gifts with the new First Family, as Michelle Obama and Barack did for President Trump and First Lady Melania in 2017, but the Bidens will have no such welcome.

If it weren’t for coronavirus, the ceremony would involve a huge crowd gathering in front of the Capitol Building – a location more recently tarnished by last week’s riots.

It would normally be customary for the new president to address their crowd, and to invite performances from superstar celebrities.

Barack Obama had Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé perform, for example, but this is more celebratory than official.

Lady GaGa will sing the National Anthem for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and Jennifer Lopez will also perform at the inauguration on January 20.

Will the inauguration be shown on TV?

With coronavirus restrictions scaling back the size of the day, there will now be a star-studded special culminating in the inauguration.

A 90-minute TV special hosted by Tom Hanks will precede the inauguration of Biden and Harris, after viewers will get to enjoy appearances from stars such as Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, and Demi Lovato.

According to Deadline, Celebrating America will air on multiple US networks including ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN.

The special will also be available on Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, and NewsNOW from Fox.

Biden is expected to take the oath of office at around 12pm ET (5pm GMT) at the US Capitol in Washington DC – it is not known if the whole special will be shown live on UK TV, but BBC News and Sky News will be showing the oath of office live.

It has become something of a tradition for the president to take their oath of office on or around noon since the 1930s, following the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution dictating the new president’s term will begin on this date, at noon.

What will Biden talk about in his inaugural address?

After taking his oath of office, Biden will receive a traditional 21-gun salute and proceed to deliver the inaugural address.

A president’s inaugural address usually alludes to what they aim to achieve in their term, as well as revealing something about their vision for America.

The Washington Post reports that Biden’s inaugural committee have stated his speech will map out his vision to beat Covid-19, build back better (the slogan for his presidential campaign), and bring the country together.

It’s also reported he will ask the nation to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

A presidential address has no specific time limit.

The longest on record was William Henry Harrison’s in 1841, clocking in at 1 hour 45 minutes. Harrison delivered the speech in a snowstorm and died one month later, due to complications from pneumonia.

The shortest presidential inaugural address was George Washington’s, which totaled a bitesize 135 words.

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