State of the Union attendees required to help show Biden didn’t fulfill campaign promise

As President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union speech next month, it will be impossible for him to tout success in one area of his presidency.

Back on the road to the White House in 2020, an overconfident Biden derided then-President Donald Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and vowed he would do things differently if elected.

“I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m going to shut down the virus,” he declared at the time.

But as he stands to address Congress on March 1, Biden will face the dilemma of either declaring the battle won against COVID-19 or admitting the reality amid a chamber full of masked and restricted members.

While every member if Congress will be allowed to attend the March 1 State of the Union, a far cry from last year’s event which was limited to a 20% capacity, lawmakers cannot invite guests and will have to be masked “at all times,” regardless of the vaccination status, according to a memo from the House sergeant-at-arms issued Thursday.

Attendees “[m]ust continuously wear an issued, FDA-authorized, KN95 or N95 mask that completely covers the nose and mouth,” House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker said in the memo.

They must also “adhere to social distancing guidelines regarding seating separation distances,” and each lawmaker will have to take an RT-PCR test which must be negative in order for them to be allowed into the chamber. Those tests will be administered in the Capitol Visitor Center.

“Individuals will receive notification of their test result to the cell phone or portable device number they identify at the time of test center registration. Individuals will show this notification or email message in the process of obtaining their ticket for entry to the event,” the memo read.

The irony of a fully masked Congress at the SOTU after Biden’s many promises to be the nation’s COVID-19 hero was not lost on Twitter users who reacted online.


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