On Jan. 20, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris have been inaugurated as the President and Vice President of the United States.
The Inauguration Day usually draws large crowds to Washington D.C. to witness the historic event. With the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened National Guard presence due to the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill attack, the National Mall was filled with an art display of nearly 200,000 American flags representing the thousands of people who can’t attend the inauguration.
Only a small crowd was allowed during the ceremony which includes former Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Senator Bernie Sanders to name a few. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence also attended the ceremony, however, outgoing President Donald Trump was not present.
“Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” said Joe Biden during his inauguration speech.
Hawaii Senator Ed Case says it was “a day of mixed emotions.”
“Sadness that deep division and polarization had driven us to celebrate our traditions behind fences, barbed wire and troops. But ultimately profound appreciation, respect and pride in our country, our institutions and our democracy….” Case wrote in a press release.
“Inaugurations are new beginnings, and that of President Biden and Vice President Harris is uniquely so. We cannot squander this one and, with mutual effort, we won’t.”
Biden’s First Day
Just a few hours after his inauguration, Biden already signed multiple executive orders, memorandums and proclamations to dismantle Trump administration policies. Here’s a quick summary of his measures:
COVID-19 Pandemic. Biden signed his first executive order, “100 Days Masking Challenge,” urging everyone to wear masks for 100 days and requiring its use on all federal property.He also signed an executive order assigning an official COVID-19 response coordinator to “aggressively” prepare the nation’s response to the pandemic and restoring the global health security and biohealth group at the National Security Council. He will also reconnect with the World Health Organization after the Trump administration withdrew the US’ membership.
Immigration. The new president signed an executive order calling on Congress to create legislation providing a permanent status and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants. He also ended the “Muslin-ban” which banned travel to the US from predominantly Muslim and African countries. Biden has also halted the construction of Trump’s border wall.
Race and LGBT Equality. Biden revoked Trump’s executive order limiting federal agencies to hold diversity and inclusion training. The order also ensures that everyone will have an equal access to federal government resources, benefits and services.
Climate Change. Biden signed a letter to re-enter the U.S. in the Paris climate accords, a coalition of 200 countries working towards a planet with less fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.
Economy. With the pandemic greatly affecting our economy, Biden has extended the federal moratorium on evictions. He also asked agencies to extend moratorium on foreclosures and federally-granted mortgages. All extensions will run until end of March. Biden is also planning to pause the federal student loan interest and principal payment until end of September.