Written by 7:16 am News • Views: 7

Masks, Distant Applause: Small Crowd Planned for First Speech to Congress by Biden

In his decades of public service, President Joe Biden attended scores of joint addresses of his predecessors to the U.S. Congress, but the scene he faces as he takes the podium at Wednesday’s House of Representatives will look very different.

Just 200 people, mainly lawmakers plus a handful of representatives of other government arms and selected family members, will attend the masked, socially distanced address, in a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic that has not yet liberated the nation from its grasp.

Masks, distanced applause: Small crowd planned for Biden's first speech to  Congress | Nasdaq

That’s far from the 1,600 politicians, relatives, and guests that usually assemble for a presidential address.

“It’ll have its own personality, its own wonderful personality,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Democrat.”We went from 1,600 to 200 people. That’s another dynamic, but it’s worth it. “

First lady Jill Biden will attend, as will husband Douglas Emhoff, and Vice President Kamala Harris. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts and U.S. Joint Staff Chairman General Mark Milley will also participate, said a Capitol official involved in organizing the case.

Harris, in her capacity as Senate president, and Pelosi will sit directly behind Biden-the first time two women have held such roles during a presidential speech.

Less than half of Congress’ 535 representatives will be required to participate, based on House physicians’ health advice.


The two congressional parties treated their ticket allocations differently. Senate Democrats arranged a draw for their candidates, scoring Mazie Hirono one of the coveted seats. Bernie Sanders, one of Biden’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, also said he’d attend.

Masks, Distanced Applause: Small Crowd Planned for Biden's First Speech to  Congress | Top News | US News

Republicans were less enthusiastic about winning seats.House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plans to attend, but his No. 2, Steve Scalise, said he gave a newly elected colleague his ticket.

“Many freshmen want to go, they haven’t been before,” Scalise said.

Among other influential Republicans who claimed they were not intending to attend was Senator Josh Hawley, who, along with several of his colleagues in the House, voted on Jan. 6 to try to thwart Biden’s election win, hours after supporters of then-President Donald Trump, fired up by his false allegations that the 2020 election had been marred by fraud, stormed the Capitol.

One Republican senator who said he’d be in the room was Lindsey Graham, an outspoken Trump ally, and Biden’s colleague when he was a senator.

“I just want to go. Nothing more to do, “Graham joked to reporters. Seriously, he added: “I want to hear from the president. I think we should go if we can, respecting the office. “

Biden | Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @njtimesofficial. To get latest updates

(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)