Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have canceled the traditional luncheon held on Inauguration Day for the new president, sparing Joe Biden a crowded sit down on Capitol Hill after he takes the oath of office.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced the cancellation on Tuesday, citing the coronavirus pandemic, and noted the decision was made in consultation with Biden’s inaugural committee.
‘In light of the ongoing pandemic, the JCCIC, in consultation with the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has made the decision to not move forward with hosting the traditional inaugural luncheon,’ said JCCIC spokesperson Paige Waltz in a statement.
The luncheon began in 1953. It takes place in Statutory Hall, which is jam packed with tables and people to toast the new president.
It is hosted by lawmakers who plan the meal and seating arrangements. For President Donald Trump‘s luncheon in January 2017, they served Maine lobster, Gulf shrimp, and Seven Hills Angus beef.
The luncheon also involves speeches, toasts and gifts. President Barack Obama’s 2013 luncheon served steamed lobster, grilled bison and apple pie.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill cancelled the traditional lunch held on Inauguration Day for President-elect Joe Biden
President Trump shakes hands with Hillary Clinton as he and Melania arrive at his luncheon in January 2017
The presidential inaugural platform is under construction in front of the U.S. Capitol for the upcoming swearing-in ceremony on January 20th
President Barack Obama arrives at his inaugural luncheon in 2013
Biden is planning a scaled-back Inauguration Day on January 20th with a focus on safety procedures given the rising number of COVID cases around the country.
It is 22 days until he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take the oath of office.
Biden’s inaugural team has already pleaded with supporters to stay home instead of coming to Washington D.C. to gather in crowds on the National Mall to see him take the oath office.
‘The [Presidential Inaugural Committee] is urging the public to refrain from any travel and participate in the inaugural activities from home,’ the committee said in an announcement earlier this month.
The committee said the ceremony’s footprint will be ‘extremely limited’ and the parade – that traditionally delivers the newly sworn-in president back to the White House via Pennsylvania Avenue – will be ‘reimagined.’
Construction of the inaugural platform in front of the U.S. Capitol and the parade viewing stand in front of the White House commenced weeks ago.
On January 20, the PIC announced that Biden and Harris would take their oaths of office in a ‘historic ceremony that includes vigorous health and safety protocols.’
The aim, the committee said, was to have a ceremony that ‘honors and resembles sacred American traditions while keeping Americans safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19.’
The release also previewed Biden’s speech saying that it ‘lays out his vision to beat the virus, build back better, and bring the country together.’
The PIC has brought on a chief medical adviser, Dr. David Kessler, who Biden already tapped to be co-chair of his COVID-19 advisory board.
Kessler is former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, serving under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Stephanie Cutter, President Barack Obama’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, will serve as an executive producer for the inauguration.
A viewing stand across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House is being constructed for the inaugural parade, which organizers say will proceed but be ‘reimagined’
The stage for the presidential inauguration is being built outside the U.S. Capitol, but organizers are asking the public to not show due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
Inauguration day typically begins at the White House with the outgoing president greeting the incoming one.
So far, Trump has refused to concede the election and has suggested he might make the unprecedented move of skipping the affair.
‘I don’t want to talk about that,’ Trump said on Fox & Friends earlier this month when asked if he would go.