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Biden, Harris Form Presidential Inaugural Committee

November 30, 2020 by Dan McCue
President-elect Joe Biden stands on stage with his wife Jill Biden as he gives the thumbs-up to the cheering crowd beyond the protective glass, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris unveiled their Presidential Inaugural Committee on Monday, as preparations continue for their swearing in on Jan. 20.

Although final plans for the inauguration are still somewhat up in the air due to the ever-changing circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is moving ahead with preparations for a traditional ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

However, the joint committee only oversees the events that occur on the Capitol grounds.

It’s the Presidential Inaugural Committee that oversees all the surrounding events including the parade, balls and concerts.

On Monday, the Biden-Harris transition team announced the senior leadership of that committee will be Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, who will serve as the body’s chief executive officer, and Maju Varghese, who will be its executive director.

Varghese previously served as chief operating officer and senior adviser to the Biden-Harris campaign.

Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela and Erin Wilson, the Biden-Harris campaign’s national political director, will both serve as deputy executive directors on the inaugural committee.

In a joint statement, the team said they will “work closely with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies … to coordinate all activities surrounding the 59th inaugural ceremonies, prioritizing keeping people safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19 while engaging all Americans.”

It remains unclear how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will affect planning for the inauguration, especially in light of repeated warnings from public health officials that the coronavirus will likely surge right after the holiday season.

For instance, although the Joint Congressional Committee voted in June to proceed with the construction of a massive inaugural stage and viewing area, it did so in the belief that it would be easier to scale down the event if need be, rather than trying to scale up at the last minute if the outbreak unexpectedly subsided.

The same challenges now confront the Presidential Inaugural Committee. In a statement, Allen, who once served as a speechwriter for then-U.S. Senator Biden, acknowledged “This year’s inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe.”

In addition to announcing the Inaugural Committee’s leadership team, the Biden-Harris transition team also rolled out a new inauguration website featuring an online store “with exclusive inaugural merchandise and collectables.”

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