Newly sworn-in GOP senator suggests delaying inauguration

Newly sworn-in Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) on Wednesday suggested delaying President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE’s inauguration until after the coronavirus pandemic was handled, even though the date is written into the Constitution.

During an interview with CBS affiliate WIAT after visiting a hospital, Tuberville questioned the timing of the inaugural ceremonies. 

“We probably could have had a swearing-in and done an inauguration a little later on after we got this virus behind us a little bit. Again, we’re talking about Washington, D.C.,” Tuberville said.

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The date of Jan. 20 is not chosen by the president-elect’s team. It is mandated in the 20th Amendment of the Constitution, which states that “the terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January."

In a statement to The Hill, a Tuberville spokeswoman said it is incorrect to interpret the senator’s remarks as calling for the postponement of Biden’s actual swearing-in ceremony. 

“The Senator spent the last two days visiting with Alabama medical care providers to receive updates on the ongoing pandemic,” the spokeswoman said. “Understanding the widely recognized health and safety concerns regarding large gatherings, the Senator was suggesting the public gathering for inaugural ceremonies could be reconsidered. As the Senator has previously said, President-elect Biden will take over next week.”

Planners of Biden’s inauguration have already significantly adjusted the events in order to incorporate safety precautions due to COVID-19. Americans are encouraged to watch the ceremony from home and the number of tickets given to members of Congress has been significantly limited. 

Tuberville was one of the Republicans who still objected to the certification of election results at a joint session of Congress last week after a group of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE’s supporters stormed the Capitol in a deadly siege. 

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Trump addressed thousands of supporters near the White House last Wednesday, urging them to march on the Capitol just as Congress — joined by Vice President Pence — was voting to certify Biden’s victory.

Following Trump's remarks, rioters who approached the Capitol toppled barricades, overwhelmed the Capitol Police and caused mayhem throughout the building, smashing windows, stealing laptops and vandalizing offices.

Four protesters died in the chaos. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, also died of injuries sustained during the assault. 

Following the riot, Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

House Democrats were joined by 10 Republicans in the historic vote to approve the single impeachment article, which accuses Trump of inciting violence against the same federal government he leads.

Tuberville’s interview was before the official vote, but the new senator said the impeachment push “makes no sense.”

“Well, we have the worst pandemic in my lifetime, and we’re worrying about impeaching a guy that's only going to be there seven more days,” he said.

Updated at 2:39 p.m.