Biden to address Congress under security, COVID restrictions

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

President Joe Biden speaks as he and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress will look like no other in recent memory.

The traditional speech for the new president, set for April 28, will unfold against the backdrop of heightened security in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot and ongoing coronavirus protocols.

It will be designated a National Special Security Event, according to a Capitol official involved in the planning and granted anonymity to discuss the situation on Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended the invitation to Biden late Tuesday “to share your vision for addressing the challenges and opportunities of this historic moment.”

The White House said that Biden accepted the invitation.

The speech will come just before Biden's 100th day in office and will provide him an opportunity to update the American public on his progress toward fulfilling his promises. It will also give him a chance to make the case for the $2.3 trillion infrastructure package he unveiled recently, which the House is aiming to pass by July 4.

But security remains tight at the Capitol, patrolled by National Guard troops and surrounded by fencing, after a mob loyal to then-President Donald Trump stormed the building in January in a deadly riot to try to undo Biden's election victory.

At the same time, pandemic restrictions will limit in-person access to the speech, which is typically broadcast live and in prime time to American households.