JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Senator Roy Blunt has served in a number of capacities in his congressional career, but “party planner” may be a new one.
The Missouri Republican will preside over the Capitol’s biggest political celebration: Inauguration Day.
Blunt is the head of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Activities, or the JCCIC.
The U.S. Senator is in charge of everything that will happen on Capitol Hill as Donald Trump is sworn in as the next president, including the swearing-in ceremony. Blunt is the first Missourian to preside over the planning so since Congress took over those duties in 1901.
Hundreds of thousands of people will be in attendance, anxious to see the president-elect being sworn in, and millions more from around the world will tune in to watch the broadcasts on TV and online.
— JCCIC (@JCCIC) January 11, 2017
As the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, the 20-year veteran of Congress will oversee the ceremonies and security for the events on January 20th.
With a number of prominent elected officials and leaders attending the event, security for the event is a top priority.
“Security is my greatest concern,” Blunt recently said. “No question that on inaugural day, this would be the most appealing target in the world.”
Security is expected to be tight, with more than three-dozen law enforcement agencies working on security and safety plans, including the FBI, Secret Service and National Guard.
But Blunt is also in charge of making dozens of smaller, behind-the-scenes decisions like the music, ticketing, lunch menu, and Congress’ gift to the new president.
And though the ceremonies are set in Washington D.C., for the New York native Trump, they’ll have some Show Me State style.
The Missouri State University Chorale will be performing at the ceremony, directed by Dr. Cameron LaBarr.
“I have no doubt that the millions of Americans watching the ceremony will be as impressed with these incredibly talented students as all of us who have had the opportunity to hear them perform,” Blunt said during his announcement of MSU’s performance at the inaugural event.
The principal artwork on display during the luncheon will also be a feature of Missouri, showcasing a painting by 19th-century Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham.
Blunt says he chose the painting “Verdict of the People” because it illustrates America’s democracy in action. The art, part of an election series by Bingham, depicts a clerk calling out election results to a crowded street. The reactions shown in the painting are mixed, matching the nation’s sometimes messy politics.
“The election’s over and some people are very happy and other people, not so happy,” Blunt said in describing the painting at a Dec. 16 press conference at the Saint Louis Art Museum, which is lending the artwork out to be displayed at the inauguration ceremony.
Blunt and the JCCIC are in also in charge of the nearly 250,000 tickets for the event. Members of Congress received their tickets earlier this week, to distribute as they wish among their constituents.
The tickets themselves contain multiple security features so that they may not be counterfeited.
“Attending the Inaugural Ceremony will be a truly unique and exciting experience for hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Blunt said. “I’m glad the attendees will soon be receiving their tickets, and I appreciate the work that’s been done to keep the tickets secure and ensure ticket holders can easily and safely find their viewing locations and enjoy the historic day.”
As the man in charge, Blunt will be working to make sure everything goes according to plan, while also delivering the opening remarks at 11:30 a.m., and serving as an emcee for the event. And though it’s an honor to serve in the role, Blunt is certain to be anxiously awaiting the inaugural parade – when his duties end.
“I will be relieved when everybody leaves safely and once again the United States has been an example of what a democracy should be,” Blunt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.