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Inauguration to break from tradition

In an unusual, though not unheard-of break from tradition, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will swear in the vice president in the upcoming inauguration, said Sen. Trent Lott on Wednesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., will swear in Vice President Dick Cheney at the inauguration Jan. 20, an unusual but not unprecedented choice.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, announced details of the event Wednesday, including the musical performers at the Capitol and who will administer the oaths.

William H. Rehnquist, chief justice of the United States, will swear in President Bush and Hastert will do the same for Cheney. Rehnquist had sworn in Cheney four years ago.

House speakers have sworn in vice presidents on three occasions, according to the Senate Historian’s Office. The last time was in 1977 when Speaker Tip O’Neill, D-Mass., swore in Vice President Walter Mondale.

In 1961, Speaker Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, gave the oath of office to Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and in 1965, Speaker John McCormack, D-Mass., swore in Vice President Humbert Humphrey.

Rehnquist being treated for cancerThere had been some question as to whether Rehnquist, who is being treated for thyroid cancer, would administer the oath to Bush, but last month, officials at the Supreme Court said he would fulfill that duty.

The inaugural ceremony will include performances by the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club, the U.S. Marine Band and mezzo sopranos Denyce Graves and Susan Graham.

Guy Hovis, a vocalist from Tupelo, Miss., who performed on the Lawrence Welk show, will sing, “Let the Eagles Soar,” a song written by Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Thomas Basile, a spokesman for the committee, said the song is a favorite of Lott’s. When Ashcroft served as senator from Missouri, he and Lott were members of the singing senators’ quartet. The group also included Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Jim Jeffords, I-Vt.

Lott said Bush and first lady Laura Bush selected Graves and Graham. As chairman of the congressional committee, Lott chose several of the other performers, including the Alcorn State University Concert Choir from Mississippi. The chairman typically picks musicians from his home state.

The congressional committee received $1.25 million for the ceremony. A separate Presidential Inaugural Committee is raising some $40 million to cover the cost of the parade, the nine official inaugural balls and candlelight dinners with the president and vice president for major donors.