The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take place on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Viewers will be able to watch the event from the comfort of their homes via a variety of cable TV and online sources.
Biden’s inauguration is expected to be covered on all mainstream television media networks, including CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS News, and Fox News. The event is also expected to be streamed online on most major news media outlets’ websites.
While the networks are varying their start times in the lead up to the event — CNN’s coverage, for instance, starts today at 4 p.m. ET — all of them will start by 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT. Lady Gaga will sign “The Star-Spangled Banner” at approximately 10:30 a.m. ET/7:30 a.m. PT, according to Variety. Other performers include Jennifer Lopez, poet Amanda Gorman, and Andrea Hall, a firefighter who will recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Father Leo O’Donovan will deliver the invocation and Dr. Silvester Beaman the benediction. The event, as is tradition, will take place on the western steps of the Capitol building.
President Donald J. Trump, after inciting insurrectionists to storm the Capitol building on Dec. 6, said he will not attend the event. In response, Biden said that Trump’s refusal to attend was a “good thing” and “he exceeded even my worst notions about him” and that “he’s been an embarrassment to the country.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who was inside the Capitol during the attempted coup that killed five people, will attend the inauguration, alongside former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. According to NPR, security will be exceedingly tight at the event, which was already downscaled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The National Mall has been closed to the public since last Friday.
Though presidential inaugurations have historically been bombastic affairs with parades and galas, the upcoming Biden event will be comparatively tame as a result of COVID-19 and a week of unprecedented upheaval in a country that previously prided itself of peaceful transitions of power. Congress’ Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced on December 16 that tickets for Biden’s inauguration would be limited to members of Congress and a guest of each Congressperson’s choosing.
“The JCCIC, in consultation with diversified public health and medical experts and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has determined that this global pandemic and the rise in COVID-19 cases warranted a difficult decision to limit attendance at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies to a live audience that resembles a State of the Union,” said JCCIC Chairman Roy Blunt said in that statement. “We are also working on enhanced opportunities to watch the ceremonies online, in addition to the traditional televised national broadcast.”
In December, Biden’s inaugural committee advised Americans to stay home during his swearing-in to prevent spreading the coronavirus. Biden has stated that his impending inauguration will likely mirror the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which was held remotely due to coronavirus-related safety reasons. That said, Biden and Harris are still expected to be sworn-in at the Capitol, per tradition.
The theme for Biden’s inauguration is “Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union.” Though it’s unclear what Biden will discuss during his inauguration speech, it is expected that the incoming president will lay out his plans for dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 350,000 Americans in the last year.