Kamala Harris takes the oath of office as the first female Vice President
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For a new president, Inauguration Day finalizes the transition of executive powers to a new administration for the presidency of the United States. On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor swore in America’s first female Vice President, Kamala Harris, and Chief Justice John Roberts swore in Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States.
In the days leading up to the event, a few significant notable differences started being put into place from years past. Roughly 25,000 National Guards were deployed to the Capitol to set up gated perimeters in Washington D.C. due to the inauguration had been designated as a “national special security event,” according to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief.
Another notable difference was the size of the event due to the coronavirus pandemic — a relatively small group of people were invited.
Biden’s predecessor President Donald Trump departed Washington ahead of the inauguration rather than attending along with the first lady and his family. In attendance, however, was Vice President Mike Pence and his wife along with three other former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Trump, now awaiting his second impeachment trial, opted to fly home to Florida after a very brief farewell speech at Joint Base Andrews.
Biden, the longtime senator from Delaware, is the 15th former Vice President and second Catholic after John F. Kennedy to become the commander-in-chief.
While swearing-in, now First Lady Jill Biden held a 5-inch-thick Bible with a Celtic cross on the cover, a book that has reportedly been in the Biden family since 1893.
Vice President Kamala Harris, a reported Baptist who has family members who are Hindu and Jewish, took her oath of office using two Bibles held by Second Man Doug Emhoff. Reports state that one belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, while the other belonged to Regina Shelton, a close family friend she thought of as a “second mother.”
According to the Constitution, it does not require politicians to swear the oath of office on any specific book. Public officials have used the Quran and the Hebrew Bible in years prior.
President Biden brings with him to office a depth of experience from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he is the oldest President inaugurated.
In President Biden’s inauguration speech, he stated, “I know the forces that divide us are deep, and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal and the harsh, ugly reality of racism, nativism, fear, demonization that have long torn us apart. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward, and we must meet this moment as the United States of America.”
Biden continued, “We have much to do in this winter of peril, and significant possibilities: much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain. Few people in our nation’s history have more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now.”
“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden said. “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”
Directly after the inauguration, President Biden went to work in the “President’s Room” at the Capitol to sign his first of three documents as President: an Inauguration Day proclamation, nominations to Cabinet positions, and nominations to sub-Cabinet positions.
It is reported that Biden will also make an executive order to rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO) from which President Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2020; rejoin the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement; repeal the “so-called Muslim Ban” barring travel to the U.S. from several majority-Muslim countries; roll back several of Trump’s anti-environmental initiatives; shore up protections for undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers”; and rescind the 1776 Commission.
In a national report from last week, Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion legislative package complete with $1,400 stimulus checks, a $100 increase to the weekly federal unemployment benefit, and billions of dollars aid for state and local governments. Media outlets reported that an actual bill may not be delivered to Biden from congress until March.
President Biden has also laid out a three-point plan of executive action for attacking the COVID-19 pandemic in his first 100 days in office, including:
- executing a vaccine distribution plan to get 100 million doses into the arms of Americans;
- signing a federal mask mandate on his first day in office; and
- providing more funding to public schools so American schoolchildren can all get back to in-person classes by the end of his first 100 days