Out with the old, in with the blue

Newly-inaugurated Biden enacts 17 executive orders and calls for unity

By Erin Albright, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of bideninaugural.org.
The inauguration was only attended by a small crowd due to the pandemic, but it still featured a star-studded group of performers. Singers Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks and John Legend sang at the ceremony.

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” President Joseph R. Biden said at the historic event yesterday. 

Biden was sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States yesterday as the country faces greater divides than ever before — economically, politically and healthwise. 

After a tumultuous election season during a pandemic, former President  Donald Trump’s allegations of a stolen election have been halted. Washington D.C. and states across the country were put under strict, heightened security over fears of riots similar to those that occurred on Jan. 6. 

President Biden celebrated the start of his term on the first sunny Inauguration Day in nearly three decades. 

The ceremony maintained a strict attendance policy with a much smaller crowd than the usual 200,000. Members of Congress received a ticket for themselves and one guest. The National Mall remained closed to the public during the event. Former Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush attended the Inauguration.

Trump left office and flew to Florida rather than attending, becoming the first outgoing president to skip the ceremony in over 150 years. Former Vice President Pence attended the event. 

Trump’s final days in the White House were spent issuing pardons. The former president stuck with tradition, however, by leaving a note for Biden. 

The vice president was sworn in first, and became the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president. 

Harris took her oath using two Bibles, one notably having belonged to Thurgood Marshall, a former Supreme Court Justice. 

Vice President Kamala Harris was escorted to the ceremony by Eugene Goodman, a Capitol police officer who steered rioters away from the Capitol two weeks ago. Harris donned the color purple, a simple nod to the first Black woman to run for president, Shirley Chisholm.

The presidential oath of office was administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.. Biden used a Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, held by his wife Dr. Jill Biden.

Biden was sworn in exactly 11 minutes before the authority of the presidency would formally change hands. In his inaugural address, the president made note of his hope to eliminate the factions currently dividing the country. 

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts,” Biden said.

Biden went on to acknowledge that few people in the nation’s history have been challenged or put in such a difficult time than we are in now. He continued, emphasizing how we as a country must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated or manufactured.

In his first evening in office, Biden signed 17 Executive Orders spanning from immigration protections to a mask mandate on federal properties. 

The president signed orders revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and ending the Trump-era 1776 Commission.  The commission, a controversial “patriotic education” program released last September, was thought by some to promote incorrect or racist ideas. 

Other orders included plans to temporarily halt new fracking and drilling operations in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ending border wall construction and an extension on housing foreclosures and federal student loan debt. 

Over 25,000 members of the National Guard were deployed to the Capitol in preparation for Biden’s inauguration. This came after the attempt by militant Trump supporters to occupy the Capitol building on Jan. 6. 

No major acts of violence were reported during or after the inauguration despite widespread concern on social media.