Senate Democrats are using a lottery system to distribute the limited number of tickets available for members of the caucus who are interested in attending President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, multiple senators — including Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz — and aides told CNN.
The sources say the system is intended to be a way to make it more fair for those who want to attend the President’s first speech to Congress, which will be significantly smaller in size than it would have normally been due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of about 200 people is expected to be allowed in the House chamber for the event, which typically includes most members of Congress, their guests, members of the Supreme Court and the President’s Cabinet.
The House Sergeant at Arms sent a letter on Friday to members’ offices, which noted that due to Covid and safety protocols, the joint address is invite-only with invitations extended to a limited number of lawmakers.
Sen. John Thune, the Republican whip, told reporters that he thinks each Senate caucus will receive 30 invitations to the joint address, and each House caucus will receive 40, adding that doesn’t think the limited number of invitations will be an issue as he’s “sure there are a lot of members who prefer to watch it from their offices or somewhere else.”
At this year’s address, lawmakers will be seated in the upstairs gallery in addition to the House floor and guests will not be permitted.