Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll be aware that Joe Biden will be sworn in tomorrow to replace Donald Trump as President of the USA. Biden beat Trump by winning 306 votes in the Electoral College to Trump’s 232. Here’s Gef’s guide on what and when to watch tomorrow.
How Did Biden Win?
Unlike in Westminster where the party with the most seats across the UK’s 650 Commons seats leads the gov and its leader becomes Prime Minister, the President is elected by winning states which translate into votes at the Electoral College. States are worth more votes than others based on how many people live there, for example Florida is worth more than Wisconsin and California is worth more than Ohio.
Why January 20?
Biden won the election in November, but he is sworn in as President on January 20. This may seem odd, but in America it makes sense. Every inauguration since 1937, when Franklin D Roosevelt was sworn in, has been held on January 20, except on three occasions when it fell on a Sunday. Traditionally this was to allow time for all votes to be collated and to allow time for new lawmakers to make their way to Washington. But in recent years it has remained in January to allow time for a new administration to fill the senior roles of government.
What Will Happen?
Usually an inauguration would be a big celebration with thousands of supporters and the world’s media descending on Washington, but this time it will be a very different affair. The seating usually set up for the public has been removed after the Battle of the Capitol earlier this month. The traditional parade along Pennsylvania Avenue will be replaced with a virtual ‘Parade Across America’.
Biden will appear on the stage in front of the Capitol Building just after 11am Washington time and will take the Oath of Office at 12pm (5pm UK time). He will, as is tradition, be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. The Chief Justice is the highest ranking judge on the US Supreme Court, a role Chief Justice Roberts has filled since 2005, overseeing Obama’s and Trump’s inaugurations. His role also involves presiding over impeachments in the Senate, he oversaw Trump’s first impeachment trial and he is currently preparing for this second.
What Can We Expect First?
Biden, in a major U-Turn from Trump’s policy, plans to re-enter the Paris Climate Accord on day one, he can do this by using his executive power and does not require Congress’ support to do it. It is believed that Biden also plans on ending the controversial travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries.
It is also expected that Biden will unveil a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, making face masks mandatory in all gov buildings for at least the first 100 days of his presidency, strongly advising all citizens to wear them for the same time when in public and jump starting the country’s vaccine roll out.
Will Trump Be There?
No, despite it being traditional for the losing candidate to attend the inauguration, as Hilary Clinton did in 2017, as Romney did in 2013 and as a George Bush Snr did in 1993, Trump will not attend tomorrow. With the exception of Trump and Jimmy Carter, who is 96 and has suffered a series of health issues in recent years, it is expected that all former living Presidents will attend the inauguration.
Where Can I Watch?
All news channels, literally all of them. In the UK BBC and Sky News will be showing the inauguration build up all day and the ceremony from about 4pm onwards.