(Image- WikiMedia Commons)
On Jan. 20, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
The day also marked a monumental moment as Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman to be Vice President of the United States. She is also the first black woman and the first woman of South Asian descent to hold the second highest office in the land.
To much surprise, the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris went just as planned. Leading up to Inauguration Day, many feared a continuation of the riots that occurred on Jan. 6, where a group of failed insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the Presidential Election.
The inauguration looked very different than most in recent memory. The backdrop of the inauguration was that of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden’s inauguration did not allow members of the general public to participate, and everyone in attendance was required to wear a mask and socially-distance.
Another change between this inauguration and all of those before it was the absence of the outgoing President.
It is tradition for the outgoing president to invite the President-elect to the White House and attend the inauguration as a gesture of good faith and to encourage unity. Former President Donald Trump broke with this tradition and instead opted to leave Washington hours before the inauguration began. He did wish the new administration well but did not mention Joe Biden’s name.
Biden’s ceremony included musical performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks. Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Then, with his wife by his side and his hand on his family Bible, Biden was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.
In attendance were three former Presidents; Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The three made a video following the inauguration that was aired on primetime television where they offered their support to Biden and called for unity. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 96, was not in attendance but did send his support to Biden and Harris.
The typical parade did not occur due to the pandemic and safety concerns. However, Biden and Harris did walk through the streets of Washington for a brief moment with military bands, the University of Howard’s drumline, and the University of Delaware’s marching band in attendance.
Following Biden’s arrival into the White House, he signed multiple executive orders that addressed immigration, the pandemic, and the economy. Harris went back to the Capitol to fulfill her duty as “President of the Senate” where she swore in three new Senators. After the swearing in, Democrats officially took back control of the Senate.
A virtual parade across America was aired on television that night and was hosted by actor Tom Hanks. It featured famous musical guests such as Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Katy Perry. It also highlighted many front line workers.
The evening also included the first press conference. Press Secretary Jen Psaki answered questions from the press about future plans for the administration and on the events of the day. In a stark contrast to the former administration, there were no attacks on the press or calling them “the enemy of the people.”
The Biden/Harris administration seemed to have one message they wanted to deliver; they are ready to get to work. Biden has signed multiple executive orders in an effort to reduce the impacts of COVID-19, streamline the vaccine, and get help to the American people.
Since his swearing in, he has sent multiple bills to Congress that address issues like COVID relief and immigration. Biden hopes to pass a $1.9 Trillion COVID relief package that would include money for distributing the vaccine, opening schools and helping small businesses. The bill, if passed, would also include a third round of stimulus checks in the amount of $1,400.
The immigration bill he sent to Congress would create a pathway to citizenship for many immigrants who already reside in the U.S. It would also invest into combating issues in Latin America that result in mass migration.