Congress is filled with all kinds of committees and panels, many of which spend every year dealing with contentious issues. But members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) traditionally get along fine, since there's nothing especially controversial about their work.
And why should there be? Every four years, between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the six members of Congress' bicameral Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies -- three from each party -- get together to oversee the inaugural process on Capitol Hill. As a rule, the most difficult task the panel considers is how to distribute tickets to the president's swearing in.
But in 2020, nothing is easy. Roll Call reported yesterday on the new fight from the committee most Americans don't know exists.
A meeting of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies turned sour Tuesday, when Republican leaders on the typically uncontroversial panel rejected a resolution that would assert that Joe Biden is president-elect.
It sounded like a straightforward exercise. The six JCCIC members met in private, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) proposed a resolution. It would've recognized the fact that Congress is preparing for Joe Biden's and Kamala Harris' inauguration, in coordination with public-health experts and the Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Naturally, the committee's Democratic members -- Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) -- approved the motion. But it failed when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who leads the JCCIC, all balked.
The resolution acknowledged Biden's victory, which, even now, Congress' Republican leaders apparently aren't willing to do.
And so, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies deadlocked on one of the easier tasks it'll consider -- because its GOP members, who were only too glad to congratulate Donald Trump within hours of his 2016 victory, can't quite bring themselves to support a motion that acknowledges the president-elect's victory.
In a written statement, Roy Blunt rejected the idea that the JCCIC should "decide who we are inaugurating," adding, "The JCCIC is facing the challenges of planning safe inaugural ceremonies during a global pandemic. I would hope that, going forward, the members of the JCCIC would adhere to the committee's longstanding tradition of bipartisan cooperation and focus on the task at hand."
Evidently, for an inaugural committee to acknowledge who'll be inaugurated is not "bipartisan."
About a week ago, Blunt told a national television audience "there was some element of voter fraud" in the 2020 presidential election -- the Missouri Republican offered no proof to substantiate this, because none exists. What's more, shortly after Biden was declared the president-elect, Blunt told reporters, "You know, [Donald Trump] wasn't defeated by huge number. In fact, he may not have been defeated at all."
Neil King, a longtime journalist, recently wrote in response to the senator's antics, "This just shows what Trumpism has done to the once rational, once balanced Republican brain. Because Roy Blunt is no fool. We should be alarmed by this lack of decency and standards."