Inauguration Countdown: Steps Before the Upcoming Transition

Yesterday, over 100 million Americans took to the polls to elect our country’s next leader, and this morning we wake up to welcome our 45th President-elect. While the decision for who will be sworn in has been made, President Obama and his administration is still in office until January 20th, 2017—Inauguration day.

So, what will happen over the next two months leading up to that day? A lot of work goes into facilitating the peaceful exchange of power—so much so that there is even a White House Transition Coordinating Council dedicated to helping facilitate the transition between old and new administrations. Those council members have already been dutifully appointed by Obama.

But there is still a lot of work to be done. To lend some transparency to the process, here is a quick synopsis of some of the other key terms and activities that will occur between now and Inauguration day. Our list would go forever if we named them all, but share this with your class to see what other terms you uncover.


Early this Morning – As soon as the results are official and conclusive, tradition dictates that the conceding party candidate call their opponent to acknowledge their victory and offer congratulations.

“Lame Duck” Session – Another term used to describe the 10 weeks between the election of the new President and the previous President’s end of term. If you’ve ever had a hard deadline for getting things done, then you can relate. During this time Obama will remain in the Oval Office and has the next 73 days to check off the Presidential to-do list that he has created over the past eight years.

Legislative Agenda and Policy Briefings – Onboarding for any new job always entails an influx of new information, so as you can imagine the transition to becoming the next POTUS means information overload. From nailing down their legislative agenda for the first 100 days in office, to attending policy briefings and Secret Service intelligence downloads, the next two months is guaranteed to be jam-packed for the President-elect.

Filling of Government Positions – A newly elected President brings lots of change to the Oval Office, from appointing Cabinet members to assigning new roles for mid-level positions. Once a President is appointed, these positions need to be filled by the right people, as quickly as possible so the new team can hit the ground running on January 20th. Thankfully, this isn’t a process that has to happen overnight. Both candidates have been hard at work since August pulling together their respective lists of possible candidates to fill the potentially thousands of open positions.

Move in, Move Out – No, the big move-in day doesn’t happen today! Tradition has it that the newly elected President moves into the White House on the same day as Inauguration Day.  Moving in to a new place in and of itself can be stressful ̶ but moving into the White House on the same day as you are expected to give your Presidential Inaugural Address? That’s a big day.


January 20th, 2017 – Inauguration day and the final step in the peaceful exchange of power. During this ceremony the Inaugural Address will be given—a speech where the new President will discuss their intentions as a leader and take the Presidential Oath of Office.

Live history with your students at the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. Learn more here.


Brittany Geoffroy

Brittany is a Marketing Manager for EF Educational Tours. She loves traveling to new places, dumplings, and anything and everything related to Asia. Her favorite city in the world is Taipei. But be careful asking her about it or you may be convinced to go!

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