Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Kamala Harris made history as the first woman, Black woman and Asian woman to be sworn in as vice president.
In his inaugural address, Biden called for unity. "Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path," the new president said. "We must end this uncivil war."
Trump did not attend the inauguration, becoming the first president since 1869 to skip the swearing-in of his successor.
Visit the Yahoo News homepage for breaking news. For highlights and analysis of the historic day, see our recap in the blog below.
• President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in shortly before noon ET.
• In his inaugural address, Biden called for national unity and an end to the “uncivil war.”
• “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” the new president said.
• Harris made history as the first woman, first African American and first Asian American to become vice president.
• Former President Donald Trump and ex-first lady Melania Trump did not attend the inauguration. They departed the White House early Wednesday and appeared at a small departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, where Trump concluded remarks by telling supporters, “Have a good life. We will see you soon.”
• Democrats officially took control of the Senate as Jon Ossoff, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla were sworn in by Harris, who now holds the chamber’s tiebreaking vote. Sen. Chuck Schumer is now the majority leader, replacing Sen. Mitch McConnell.
• Biden signed 17 executive actions on issues ranging from the coronavirus to immigration — rolling back measures enacted by Trump. He told reporters that his predecessor left him a “very generous” letter, one of the few traditions Trump kept intact.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during her first press briefing Wednesday. (Evan Vucci/AP)
New White House press secretary holds first briefing
In the first press briefing of President Biden’s administration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday night that her goal is to “bring transparency and truth back to the American government.”
It was an unsubtle jab at the previous administration, which was notorious for the false and misleading claims that were consistently lobbed from the briefing room podium.
Psaki also said that she plans to hold daily briefings Monday through Friday, another shift from the Trump White House, where press briefings became sporadic and nearly nonexistent toward the end of Trump’s term.
“I’d love to take your questions,” Psaki said.
Speaking about Biden’s goal of administering 100 million coronavirus vaccine shots in his first 100 days, Psaki said the president “remains committed” to that figure.
She was also asked about Biden’s current thoughts on the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.
Psaki declined to answer directly, talking instead about Biden’s strong Catholic faith.
President Biden swears in presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House on Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters/Tom Brenner)
Biden swears in presidential appointees in virtual ceremony
After signing over a dozen executive orders, President Biden swore in presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony Wednesday evening.
“We have to restore the soul of this country and I’m counting on all of you to be part of that,” Biden said in a speech before he administered the oath of office. “It’s not hyperbole. The only thing I expect with absolute certitude is honesty and decency.”
Biden introduces sweeping immigration reform bill, rolling back Trump orders
Before President Biden was officially sworn in Wednesday, his incoming administration announced several significant immigration-related actions the new president planned to take on his first official day in office, signaling the start of what Biden has promised will be a more welcoming and humane contrast to the hard-line anti-immigrant policies of the Trump era.
Following his inauguration Wednesday, Biden is expected to sign the first of many executive orders he plans to issue in the coming days to undo a variety of controversial Trump policies, such as the bans restricting travel to the U.S. from several mostly Muslim and African countries, and will pause the construction of a wall along the southern border.
In addition to rolling back these and other Trump orders via executive action, Biden’s day-one immigration agenda also includes the introduction of an ambitious legislative overhaul of the U.S. immigration system.
The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which Biden plans to send to Congress Wednesday, would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., expand the use of new screening technologies to bolster border security, and provide assistance to Central America as part of an effort to address the root causes of migration from the region.
When it comes to power, Joe Biden is the real apprentice
On the first day of Joe Biden’s presidency, he submitted to the office, Yahoo News’ Jon Ward writes:
Before and after his speech — the moment that will be replayed in news snippets and printed in history books — Biden went dutifully through ceremonies and rituals and signaled the importance of national unity.
Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, could not be bothered to even attend the inauguration. He was the fourth president in the nation’s history to skip an inauguration after losing an election, and the first since 1869. It was one last big middle finger to political norms at the end of a presidency full of them.
Trump’s absence was amplified when former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all accompanied Biden in a somber visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in tribute to fallen members of the U.S. military.
Biden’s decision to highlight sacrifice and duty on his first day stood in stark contrast to Trump’s first day as president in 2017, when he boasted about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He always stood outside the presidency — its expectations and obligations — rather than coming underneath it and allowing the office to loom larger than his personality and ego.
Biden: Trump wrote me a 'very generous' letter
President Biden told reporters that his predecessor left him a “very generous” letter when he departed the White House this morning.
Biden said that he didn’t want to discuss the specific contents of the private message until he had an opportunity to speak with former President Donald Trump, who did not attend the inauguration earlier today, breaking a century and a half of tradition.
President Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters/Tom Brenner)
President Biden signing over a dozen executive orders
In one of his first official acts in the Oval Office, President Biden is signing a number of executive orders, rolling back some Trump policies and instituting some of his own. Among the orders:
* Terminating Trump’s ban on visitors from majority Muslim countries.
* Rejoining the Paris climate accord.
* Extending a federal eviction moratorium through the end of March.
* Revoking the Trump administration’s order to not count noncitizens in the census tally.
* Continuing the freeze on federal student loan payments through the end of September.
* Fortifying protections for “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children.
* Reengaging with the World Health Organization.
* A nationwide mask wearing and social distancing mandate on federal lands, in federal buildings, and for federal employees and contractors.
* Stopping construction of the border wall.
* Revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Read more about them here.
In this image from video, VP Harris swears in Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., on Senate floor Wednesday. (Senate Television via AP)
Democrats take control of the Senate
Now as president of the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new Democratic senators on Inauguration Day, which changed the balance of power in the chamber, giving Democrats control for the first time since 2014. With a 50-50 split, Democratic Vice President Harris would cast a vote in the event of a tie.
Like Harris, the newly sworn-in senators are making history in their own ways today.
Harris administered the oath of office for her replacement, Alex Padilla, who is California’s first Latino senator and was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Harris also swore in Georgia’s senators, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Ossoff is the first Jewish senator from Georgia. At age 33, Ossoff is also the youngest Democrat elected to the Senate since Joe Biden was elected in 1972.
The Democratic Senate majority also makes Sen. Chuck Schumer the Senate majority leader, with Sen. Mitch McConnell now serving as Senate minority leader.
Biden, Harris walk short parade route to White House with their families
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walked with their families on Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House as part of the 59th presidential inauguration parade.
Due to security concerns, it was not known ahead of time whether Biden and Harris would get out of their protected vehicles to walk the shortened parade route.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden receive Presidential Escort to the White House after the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington January 20, 2021. (Photo: Doug Mills/Pool via Reuters)
Vice President Kamala Harris walks with her great-niece Amara Ajagu to the White House Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Kelly)