A day before he is sworn into office, Biden is planning to make his way to the nation’s capital on a family train trip that will be part of the festivities leading up to the inauguration on January 20, people familiar with the plans tell CNN.
While plans for the inauguration were shaken this week by the violent attack on the Capitol, along with unrelenting complications from the coronavirus pandemic, Biden and top advisers have instructed their team to keep moving forward, without being deterred by the steep challenges.
“He was elected during a pandemic. He will be inaugurated during one,” a Biden ally said. “We will have a safe and historic inauguration and not be deterred.”
Yet it will be anything but normal, given President Donald Trump’s refusal to attend the inauguration ceremony. Neither the Biden transition or inaugural teams have commented on Trump’s decision to stay away, but two people close to the planning say they are relieved to finally know his intentions, without having a last-minute surprise appearance.
With 12 days remaining until the inauguration, planning for the event is urgently underway.
The traditional parade will be replaced by a virtual event, which is being designed in a similar format to the roll call at the Democratic convention that ultimately became a viral highlight of the scaled-back event.
But for Biden, the train trip to Union Station in Washington — from the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station in Wilmington — will kick off the festivities. Those plans, aides said, are not scheduled to change, despite the events of the past week in the nation’s capital.
It would be a fitting moment for the man who took roughly 8,000 round trips on that same route during his time as senator and vice president — earning him the moniker “Amtrak Joe” — and who four years ago left Washington by train on his final day as vice president.
Biden is planning to spend the night before his inauguration in a Washington hotel, people familiar with the plans say, and will move to the White House after it has been thoroughly cleaned, given the strict coronavirus protocols he follows.
His official move-in date to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has not yet been set. It could be the night of January 20 or in the days immediately following.