“Obviously the events of the 6th are poignant reminders of why we need to be vigilant,” said Michael Plati, the U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge, who is leading security for the joint session. “But the standard of security remains the same.”
How to watch
When: Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 9 p.m. ET
NewsNation will carry President Biden’s full speech and the Republican response from Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), plus provide unbiased analysis.
Invite-only: What will be different this year?
It’s usually a packed house in the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives, but this year is an invite-only affair, with no guests allowed.
Congressional leadership extended the invitations, and anyone without one must leave the building by 5 p.m. Wednesday. However, staff with Capitol offices and those credentialed by the Sergeant-at-arms can remain in the building, according to a memo by Timothy Blodgett, the acting sergeant-at-arms. Official visitors are allowed only until 1 p.m. and they must be escorted into the Capitol from the barricades.
While senators are in Washington this week, the House is not in session, with most lawmakers working remotely. House Republicans are holding a private retreat in Florida and it’s doubtful many will rush back to attend.
In addition, security will be tight around the Capitol region for the event. National Guard troops, in place since the riot, are still in the area. Some security plans will be obvious: officers in uniforms, checkpoints, metal detectors, fencing. Some won’t.
“We have many options and we prepare for contingencies well in advance,” Plati said.
The joint session is designated as a “national special security event,” which clears the way for communication, funding and preparation between multiple agencies in Washington, including the Capitol Police, Pentagon, Homeland Security and District-area police. Other such events are the State of the Union, the Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Why is it not the State of the Union?
Presidents don’t deliver a State of the Union address to Congress until their second year in office.
Traditionally the president’s first address to the joint session of Congress happens shortly after the inauguration.
He didn’t give a traditional address to Congress earlier this year because the White House said he was focusing on his COVID-19 recovery and response efforts.
The address will provide him an opportunity to update the American public on his progress toward fulfilling his promises and make the case for the $2.3 trillion infrastructure package he unveiled earlier this month.
Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber and a leading voice on police reform, will deliver his party’s response to President Biden’s address to Congress, when Biden is expected to urge action on the issue.
“We face serious challenges on multiple fronts, but I am as confident as I have ever been in the promise and potential of America,” Scott, 55, said in a statement. “I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans’ optimistic vision.”
Scott is one of three Black U.S. senators, along with Cory Booker of New Jersey and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
NewsNation will carry President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress and Sen. Scott’s response during NewsNation Prime on Wednesday, April 28.
The Associated Press journalist Colleen Long and Reuters’ David Morgan contributed to this report.