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White House and GSA Complete Cleaning, COVID-19 Upgrades for Biden Administration

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 1/21/2021 Scott MacFarlane
a living room filled with furniture and a fireplace: The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden’s administration, including busts of civil rights leader Rosa Parks, left, and President Abraham Lincoln. © AP

The Oval Office of the White House is newly redecorated for the first day of President Joe Biden’s administration, including busts of civil rights leader Rosa Parks, left, and President Abraham Lincoln.

The White House has spent $12,000 to add 25 glass partitions to desks in the East Wing and West Wing as President Joe Biden begins his term in office.

The additions are an effort to reduce the risk of COVID19 infections as the Biden administration takes over a White House complex in which the coronavirus spread far and wide during the final months of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Records obtained from the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that serves as property manager for federal buildings and complexes, show more than a half million dollars in expenses readying the White House for the new president.  

Among the expenses listed: $127,249 in costs to clean the offices used by Trump administration officials prior to Inauguration Day. The GSA records also list nearly $37,000 in trash removal, $53,000 in painting and patching, and $29,000 in curtain cleaning. The records don’t specify which curtains, but the tone of yellow in the Oval Office curtains changed noticeably between the final Oval Office photo opportunity of Trump and Wednesday’s signing ceremony of Biden.

The GSA records also list approximately $44,000 in carpet cleaning expenses in the West Wing, East Wing and Old Executive Office Building, which includes office spaces for hundreds of senior staff.

Carpets weren’t just cleaned, but others were replaced, according to the GSA. The agency’s records said $115,363 was spent to “correct the condition of the interior floor surfaces by providing carpet installation & repair services for existing carpeted floor surfaces in various selected rooms located in the West Wing, East Wing, and Eisenhower Executive Office Building in support of the Presidential Transition/Inauguration.”

The records do not specify purchases or equipment installation, which traditionally occur in the opening days of a new presidential administration.   

A 2017 investigation by the News4 I-Team revealed a series of purchases made by the GSA in the opening days of the Trump administration. Those purchases included a new Oval Office toilet seat, new satellite television equipment for Vice President Mike Pence’s office, and new office furniture and pictures for former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Images from Wednesday’s executive order signing ceremony by Biden show new portraits, photos and busts have been added the Oval Office, including the replacement of a wall painting of former President Andrew Jackson. A blue carpet has replaced the prior carpeting in the Oval Office during the Trump administration, the images released of the ceremony show.

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