Economy

Biden was sworn in as US president in a closely watched ceremony


Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

Reuters

Summary

  • Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday in a ceremony at a heavily guarded US Capitol.
  • President Joe Biden was sworn in on Wednesday, assuming the helm of a country reeling from deep political divisions, a struggling economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

  • With his hand on a heirloom Bible that has been in his family for more than a century, Biden took the presidential oath administered by US Chief Justice John Roberts just after noon (1700 GMT).

WASHINGTON (Reuters)

Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday in a ceremony at a heavily guarded US Capitol, ending his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s tumultuous four-year presidency.

President Joe Biden was sworn in on Wednesday, assuming the helm of a country reeling from deep political divisions, a struggling economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

With his hand on a heirloom Bible that has been in his family for more than a century, Biden took the presidential oath administered by US Chief Justice John Roberts just afternoon (1700 GMT), vowing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Biden, 78, became the oldest US president in history in a scaled-down ceremony in Washington that was largely stripped of his usual pomp and circumstance, due to both the coronavirus and health concerns. security after the January 6 assault on the US Capitol by supporters. of outgoing President Donald Trump.

Norm-defying Trump flouted a final convention on his way out of the White House when he refused to meet Biden or attend his successor’s inauguration, breaking with a political tradition seen as affirming the peaceful transfer of power.

Trump, who has never conceded the Nov. 3 election, did not mention Biden’s name in his final remarks as president Wednesday morning, when he touted his administration’s record and vowed to be return “in one form or another”. He boarded Air Force One for the last time and headed for his retirement from Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and party leaders in Congress, attended Biden’s inauguration, alongside former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, became the first black person, first woman and first Asian American to serve as vice president after sworn in to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina. member.

Harris used two Bibles, including one belonging to Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Biden takes office at a time of deep national unease, with the country facing what his advisers have described as four compounding crises: the pandemic, the economic downtown, climate change and racial inequality. He promised immediate action, including a series of executive orders on his first day in office.

Wednesday’s ceremony took place outside a heavily fortified US Capitol, where a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building two weeks ago, enraged by his false claims that the election was robbed with million fraudulent votes.

The violence prompted the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives to impeach Trump last week for an unprecedented second time.

Thousands of National Guard troops were called into the city after the siege, which left five people dead and briefly forced lawmakers into hiding. Instead of crowds of supporters, the National Mall was blanketed Wednesday with nearly 200,000 flags and 56 pillars of light meant to represent people in US states and territories.

“THE SOUL OF AMERICA”

Biden, who has vowed to “restore the soul of America,” will call for American unity in times of crisis in his inaugural speech, advisers say.

His inauguration is the culmination of a five-decade career in public service, including more than three decades in the U.S. Senate and two terms as vice president under former President Barack Obama.

But he faces calamities that would challenge even the most seasoned politician.

The pandemic in the United States hit two grim milestones on Trump’s last full day in office on Tuesday, hitting 400,000 US deaths and 24 million infections – the highest of any country. Millions of Americans are out of work due to pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions.

Biden has pledged to bring the full weight of the federal government to bear on the crisis. His top priority is a $1.9 trillion plan that would improve unemployment benefits and provide direct cash payments to households.

But that will require approval from a deeply divided Congress, where Democrats hold slim advantages in both the House and Senate. Harris was due to swear in three new Democratic senators Wednesday night, creating a 50-50 split in the chamber with herself as the deciding vote.

Biden will waste no time trying to move on from the Trump era, advisers said, signing 15 executive actions on Wednesday on issues ranging from the pandemic to the economy to climate change. The orders will include imposing masks on federal properties, returning to the Paris climate accord and ending Trump’s travel ban on some Muslim-majority countries.

Although Biden has set out a busy schedule for his first 100 days, including delivering 100 million COVID-19 vaccines, the Senate could be consumed by Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial, which will continue even if he does. left office.

The lawsuit could serve as an early test of Biden’s promise to foster a renewed sense of bipartisanship in Washington.

Trump issued more than 140 pardons and commutations in his final hours in office, including a pardon for his former political adviser, Steve Bannon, who pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding Trump supporters as part of his an effort to raise private funds for a Mexico Border Wall.

But Trump did not grant preemptive pardons for himself or his family members, after speculation he might do so.