As President Joe Biden headed down the main aisle of the House chamber Wednesday night for his first joint address to Congress, it was a smaller affair than what he was used to.
The former two-term vice president and long-time senator has been to countless presidential addresses in Congress, normally packed to the brim, but this one was a toned-down affair due to coronavirus restrictions that limited the attendee list to 200 people.
But Biden, who is known for connecting with others on a personal level, still got in some fist bumps with lawmakers, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), as well as some pats on the back from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.). He even shared a half embrace with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
In a typical year, nabbing a spot on the aisle would be one of the hottest seats in the room, with the opportunity to shake hands and rub shoulders with the president as he makes his way to the dais. But this year, the aisles were sparsely populated, with individual lawmakers standing rows apart.
For some lawmakers, it had become a bit of a sport, including former Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who would arrive early to get a prime spot. Engel was beat out by progressive challenge Jamaal Bowman last year.
“Somewhere Eliot Engel is upset,” one attendee was overheard saying on a live feed.