Scalise won't attend Biden's first joint address due to capacity limits

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseSarah Palin's defamation case against New York Times heads to trial Supreme Court handcuffs Biden on vaccinations House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 MORE (R-La.) isn't planning to attend President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE's first joint address to Congress on Wednesday and will instead give his ticket to another GOP lawmaker. 

Scalise told reporters at the House GOP retreat in Orlando, Fla., on Monday that seating for lawmakers will be limited and that he wants to give an opportunity to first-term Republicans who have never attended a presidential address to Congress. 

"There are not many of us that are going to be able to go, because they're limiting it pretty dramatically," Scalise said. "There are a lot of people that haven't been before that want to go." 


Biden's address to Congress will be significantly scaled back compared with past joint sessions due to COVID-19 health restrictions. Only about 200 people are expected to be in the House chamber during the address, meaning that relatively few of the more than 500 members of the House and Senate will be in attendance.

House and Senate members won't be allowed to bring guests. White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team Virginia's Youngkin gets the DeSantis treatment from media On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet MORE said last week that first lady Jill BidenJill BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks Jill Biden adds to communications team in lead-up to midterm elections Harris invokes MLK in voting rights push, urges Senate to 'do its job' MORE won't bring guests either. The first lady does plan to attend the speech in person, however. 

A Capitol official said Monday that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will represent the Supreme Court, while Mark MilleyMark MilleyJournalist Robert Costa leaving Washington Post for CBS News The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be in attendance on behalf of the collective body's military leaders.

Scalise said he hopes Biden will discuss how the two parties can work together on legislation. Biden has been meeting with Republicans in recent weeks on infrastructure proposals, but Democrats also have the option of using the same budget process as they did for the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package earlier this year that allows them to circumvent a Senate GOP filibuster.

"In the end, what he says is going to be important. And I hope his speech is more focused on unifying as opposed to just having a go-it-alone strategy where they continue to shut Republicans out of the process, even though he promised he would work with everybody, because he's yet to do that," Scalise said.