Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday January 12, 2021
White House moving day packed with taxpayer-funded Covid-19 cleanings and shifting sports equipment
A thorough cleaning is part of the every-four-years tradition that comes with the outgoing president and his family swapping White House living with the incoming president and family.
The delicate and highly choreographed event of packing up and moving out, and unpacking and moving in, done by dozens of prepped and trained staff and movers, typically occurs in the six-hour window when both the exiting and entering presidents and their spouses attend Inauguration Day ceremonies on Capitol Hill. By the time the new president and first lady return to the White House, all of their stuff will have been moved in and ready to go — down to a refrigerator stocked with their favorite foods and the master bathroom equipped with their preferred shampoo.
But, like most things Trump administration, this January 20 won’t be very traditional.
Before the Bidens move in, the White House will first undergo a Covid-19 cleansing, top to bottom, from East Wing to West Wing. According to federal contract data reviewed by CNN, the total for the amplified White House inauguration deep clean right now hovers near a half-million dollars.
This includes $127,000 for what one government order refers to as “2021 Inaugural Cleaning,” bid out to Didlake, a Virginia-based business that employs people with disabilities for jobs including janitorial and housekeeping services. That’s separate from a $44,000 order for carpet cleaning and the $115,000 purchase agreement for “2021 Presidential Inauguration and Transition Carpet Replacement and Installation to correct the current floor condition of selected interior floors for various offices,” within the East Wing, West Wing and Executive Office Building, according to the description.
In traditional administration-swaps, the bulk of the cleaning, while thorough, is done predominantly by White House staff — housekeepers, butlers, ushers — and upkeep such as electrical fixes and small maintenance jobs completed by White House workers, of which there are typically 90 to 100 in roles that range from pastry cooks to florists to plumbers.
However, this time around, the incoming Biden administration wanted to ensure that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which has been a hot spot of at least three Covid-19 breakouts, gets the sort of scrub-down a pandemic deserves, according to a White House official who spoke with CNN on the condition of anonymity.
“The idea that they would just move in seems unlikely,” said the official, who was not aware of the specific contract numbers but was aware there were additional measures being taken after the Trumps leave the White House. (CNN)