Joe Biden will officially make his move to the White House on inauguration day Biden takes the oath of office.

Inauguration Day is the event where US president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president elect Kamala Harris are sworn into office.

The 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, enshrined in America’s founding document, Biden will take his place as the 46th president and the inauguration will be complete (but that’s not all – celebrations traditionally follow).

By law, inauguration day is Jan. 20. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in at noon that day in Washington DC. Opening remarks are historically scheduled for around 11:30 EST (16:30 GMT).

Once Biden takes the oath, he has officially assumed office and the power of the presidency is his. He’ll move into the White House later in the day – his home for the next four years.

This year, with Covid-19 infections still surging across the US, things will be a little different. Only about 1,000 tickets will be up for grabs, where in the past up to 200,000 were made available for the official ceremony.

The Biden team has “strongly encouraged” people to refrain from travelling to Washington to attend, amid fears of virus spread.

In normal circumstances, the capital city would see hundreds of thousands – make that an estimated two million the year President Obama was sworn in – of inauguration revelers flock to the city, swarming the National Mall and selling out hotels.

A January inauguration wasn’t always the case – the Constitution initially set 4 March as the day for new leaders to take their oaths of office.

Selecting a date four months from the November general election made sense at the time given how long it took for votes from across the country to trickle in to the capital.

But this also meant the lame duck period – the time when an outgoing president is still in office – was quite long. Eventually, as modern advances made it easier to count and report votes, this lengthy time frame was changed. The 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, decreed the new president would be inaugurated on 20 January instead.

The stage, which was being erected in December, is set up in front of the US Capitol in Washington DC, overlooking the National Mall. While the scene of crowds amid the nation’s monuments may be a familiar one, it’s only been a tradition since President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Before that, presidents took their oaths on the other side of the Capitol, inside the chambers of Congress, at the White House, or elsewhere in the country (George Washington took his oath in New York City).

After the swearing in ceremony, there’s usually a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

This year, the celebration’s size will be “extremely limited”, the Biden team has said, and events like the parade will be “re-imagined” amid the coronavirus pandemic. So far, it’s not quite clear what these Covid-friendly plans will look like.

George W Bush’s first inaugural address in 2001 featured music from military bands, but the Republican was later joined by Ricky Martin and Destiny’s Child – featuring a 19-year-old Beyoncé Knowles – for the celebrations. And in 2005, President Bush’s second inaugural celebration was bolstered by performances from singers Hilary Duff and Gloria Estefan.

In 2009, the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin turned out for Barack Obama’s inauguration, performing My Country ‘Tis of Thee.

Beyoncé was also on hand, singing At Last to the first couple at Obama’s inaugural ball. At his second inauguration in 2013, President Obama called on Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson to do the honors. Beyoncé was back again, this time to sing the national anthem.

At the most recent inauguration, Donald Trump reportedly had more trouble booking performers. Elton John declined Trump’s offer to perform, and reports circulated that Celine Dion, Kiss and Garth Brooks did the same. In the end, the Rockettes, country artist Lee Greenwood, and band 3 Doors Down turned out for Trump’s inauguration day.

Biden has said he hopes his predecessor attends in order to set a positive example of a peaceful transition of power.

But Trump’s presence is “not on the top 10 list” of the president-elect’s priorities, incoming press secretary Jen Psaki told the BBC.


Image Sources