By Trevor Hunnicutt, Patricia Zengerle and Jarrett Renshaw
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Joe Biden was sworn in as president of america on Wednesday, providing a message of unity and restoration to a deeply divided nation reeling from a battered financial system and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed greater than 400,000 People.
Standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the constructing, Biden referred to as for a return to civic decency in an inaugural deal with marking the tip of Trump’s tempestuous four-year time period.
“To beat these challenges, to revive the soul and safe the way forward for America, requires a lot greater than phrases. It requires probably the most elusive of all issues in a democracy: unity,” Biden, a Democrat, stated after taking the oath of workplace.
“We should finish this uncivil conflict that pits purple in opposition to blue, rural versus city, conservative versus liberal. We are able to do that – if we open our souls as a substitute of hardening our hearts.”
The themes of Biden’s 21-minute speech mirrored these he had put on the middle of his presidential marketing campaign, when he portrayed himself as an empathetic different to the divisive Trump, a Republican.
Saying there was “no time to waste,” Biden signed 15 govt actions shortly after coming into the White Home on Wednesday afternoon to set a brand new course and overturn a few of Trump’s most controversial insurance policies.
The orders included mandating masks on federal property, halting the withdrawal from the World Well being Group, rejoining the Paris local weather accord and ending a journey ban on some Muslim-majority international locations.
Biden instructed reporters within the Oval Workplace that Trump had left him “a really beneficiant letter,” however he wouldn’t disclose its contents.
The inauguration itself, one not like every other in U.S. historical past, served as a stark reminder of each the tumult that outlined the Trump period in addition to the pandemic that also threatens the nation.
Amid warnings of attainable renewed violence, 1000’s of armed Nationwide Guard troops circled the Capitol in an unprecedented present of power. The Nationwide Mall, usually full of throngs of supporters, as a substitute was full of almost 200,000 U.S. flags. Attending dignitaries – together with former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Invoice Clinton – wore masks and sat a number of ft aside.
Biden’s working mate, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, turned the primary Black particular person, first lady and first Asian American to function vice chairman after she was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court docket Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court docket’s first Latina member.
The president spoke forcefully concerning the Jan. 6 Capitol siege when Trump backers breached the constructing, sending lawmakers fleeing for security and leaving 5 useless, together with a police officer. However Biden by no means talked about his predecessor by identify.
The violence prompted the Democratic-controlled U.S. Home of Representatives to question Trump final week for an unprecedented second time, accusing him of incitement after he exhorted his backers to march on the constructing to press false claims of election fraud.
“Right here we stand, simply days after a riotous mob thought they may use violence to silence the desire of the folks, to cease the work on our democracy, to drive us from this sacred floor,” Biden stated. “It didn’t occur; it is going to by no means occur. Not as we speak, not tomorrow, not ever.”
The norm-defying Trump flouted one final conference on his means out of the White Home when he refused to satisfy with Biden or attend his successor’s inauguration, breaking with a political custom seen as affirming the peaceable switch of energy.
Trump, who by no means conceded the Nov. 3 election, didn’t point out Biden by identify in his closing remarks as president on Wednesday morning, when he touted his administration’s document. He then boarded Air Power One for the final time and flew to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.
High Republicans, together with Vice President Mike Pence and the celebration’s congressional leaders, skipped Trump’s send-off and attended Biden’s inauguration as a substitute.
Biden takes workplace at a time of deep nationwide unease, with the nation dealing with what his advisers have described as 4 compounding crises: the pandemic, the financial downturn, local weather change and racial inequality.
After a bitter marketing campaign marked by Trump’s baseless allegations of election fraud, Biden’s speech struck a conciliatory tone hardly ever heard from Trump. He requested People who didn’t vote for him to present him an opportunity.
“I pledge this to you: I will probably be a president for all People,” he stated. “And I promise you I’ll struggle as onerous for many who didn’t help me as for many who did.”
Though his remarks have been directed primarily at home issues, Biden additionally delivered a message to the remainder of the world. He promised to restore alliances frayed by Trump and act as a powerful associate for peace, progress and safety. He made no particular point out of high-stakes disputes with North Korea, Iran and China.
World leaders issued congratulatory statements, with a number of U.S. allies expressing aid at Biden’s inauguration after Trump’s unpredictable tenure that was centered on an “America First” agenda.
BACK TO WHITE HOUSE
Biden took the presidential oath, administered by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, together with his left hand resting atop a 5-inch heirloom Bible that has been in his household for a century.
Later within the day, Biden attended a wreath-laying ceremony on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Nationwide Cemetery in Virginia, accompanied by Obama, Bush and Clinton.
Afterward, his motorcade joined an abbreviated parade on his strategy to the White Home. Biden and his household left their limousines on Pennsylvania Avenue to stroll the ultimate few hundred yards to their new residence.
“It looks like I am going residence,” Biden stated when requested about returning to the White Home.
In her first briefing for reporters, White Home spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated Biden’s first phone dialog with a overseas chief could be with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday. They are going to focus on Biden’s determination to revoke the allow wanted to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline and different bilateral points, she stated.
Biden’s inauguration because the forty sixth president was the zenith of a five-decade profession in public service that included greater than three many years within the U.S. Senate and two phrases as vice chairman beneath Obama. At 78, he’s the oldest U.S. president in historical past.
He faces calamities that might problem even probably the most skilled politician.
The pandemic reached a pair of grim milestones on Trump’s closing full day in workplace on Tuesday, reaching 400,000 U.S. deaths and 24 million infections – the very best of any nation. Thousands and thousands of People are out of labor due to pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions.
Biden’s high precedence is a $1.9 trillion plan that might improve jobless advantages and supply direct money funds to households to alleviate the monetary ache from coronavirus.
However it is going to require approval from a divided Congress, the place Democrats maintain slim benefits in each the Home and Senate.
The Senate on Wednesday accepted Avril Haines to be director of nationwide intelligence, the nation’s high intelligence job, the primary affirmation of a Biden nominee.