Pallets of empty cardboard boxes were delivered Wednesday to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Moving day is less than a week away and preparations are underway for Trump’s departure and the Bidens arrival. Before the Bidens arrive, deep cleaning is scheduled to take place in the White House and Jill Biden has plans for a million-dollar bathroom renovation in the East Wing.
We are still in a pandemic so it’s reasonable that intense cleaning will happen as one group leaves and another moves into the White House. This year the cleaning that takes place during the transition between two administrations is more intense (and costly) than normally done. The deep cleaning is described as a top to bottom, West Wing to East Wing COVID-19 cleaning. The federal contract for this is about a half-million dollars. The Bidens are not following traditional measures.
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.
The Bidens are an elderly couple – Joe is noticeably fragile in appearance and Jill is 69 years old – so extra careful cleaning is not surprising. They have to protect Joe’s health as much as possible. I’m ok with that as I don’t want Kamala to be officially declared president. Let her do the job from the sidelines. Some of the items in the contract include carpet cleaning, curtain cleaning and new carpeting.
A $127,249 contract for “2021 Inaugural Cleaning.”
$44,038 for carpet cleaning
$29,523 for “curtain cleaning” in the East Wing, West Wing and Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
$115,363 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 the EEOB.
It’s reported that Melania began having boxes filled and shipped to Florida after the election. The family furniture and other items are being put into storage. She understood that Biden won the election and acted accordingly.
Jill Biden is ready to spend taxpayer dollars on a new bathroom in the East Wing. The renovations are expected to take four months to complete.
Documents obtained by TMZ show that the East Wing restroom renovations will be carried out by local, minority-owned Holmes Mechanical Contractors and will cost $1.2 million. The First Lady’s offices are located in the East Wing. The exact details of the renovations have not been revealed, however, TMZ notes that the company that secured the gig specializes in “big-building bathroom stuff.” The renovations are expected to be completed by mid-May, almost four months after the Bidens move in following Biden swearing-in as President.
I imagine that Jill Biden has a list of renovations she’ll take on while she is in the White House, given her familiarity with the building. Remember, though, that the two big projects undertaken by Melania were the Rose Garden renovation and updating, and the new tennis court pavilion. Both of those projects were paid for through private donations. Trump has done his share of renovations in the West Wing. It’s a common thing with most administration, it’s just a little unusual that the first lady’s East Wing renovations make headlines pre-inauguration.
President Donald Trump’s time at the White House has not gone without renovations. Extensive renovations took place at the White House over the last four years, especially in the West Wing, including new bathrooms, the wood-paneled elevator being updated, upgrades to West Wing lobby, and structural work in the executive mansion.
The State Department announced Wednesday that the Bidens will stay at Blair House the night before the inauguration, as is tradition.
We know that President Trump will buck tradition and not attend Biden’s inauguration. Here’s a little tidbit, though – Melania didn’t know that he had made his decision to not attend until she saw his tweet. The last tweet Twitter allowed Trump to post before shutting down his account was his announcement that he would not attend Biden’s inauguration.
Melania wasn’t sure whether the president would break from long-standing tradition and symbolically undermine the peaceful transfer of power by refusing to attend the inauguration, despite media reports that he would do so. She found out she and her husband would break the norm when Trump tweeted about it on January 8.
“It’s not the first time she has learned what he was doing because he tweeted it before he told her,” a top White House staffer told CNN.