On January 20, 2021, on the steps of the United States Capitol, history was made. Shortly before Noon EST, Kamala D. Harris was sworn-in as the 49th Vice President of the United States. Shortly thereafter, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn-in as the 46th President of the United States.
President Biden and Vice President Harris both make history in unique ways. President Biden, age 78, is the oldest person to have ever served as President. In his old age, he will combat the largest crises the country has faced in decades, including great economic, medical, and racial issues.
Initially retiring in 2017 from politics, the former Vice President threw his hat in the ring to run in 2020 only because of the perceived threat of then-President Donald Trump. Biden went on to defeat former President Trump in November’s general election by 74 electoral votes and over 7 million popular votes.
Vice President Kamala Harris also makes history. She is the first woman elected to national office, and the first African-American and Asian-American to serve as Vice President. As such, she is the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States Government, and the second-highest-ranking African-American in history, behind former President Barack Obama.
Former President Trump refused to attend the inauguration of Mr. Biden, instead opting to leave Washington early in the morning, and head to his residence in Florida. In so doing, Trump broke a 152 year-long precedent of presidents attending their elected successors’ inaugurations. However, Trump did follow tradition by leaving Biden a letter in the Oval Office.
In Trump’s place, outgoing Vice President Mike Pence attended the inauguration. He welcomed Biden, Harris, and their families to the inaugural platform, before departing Washington after his term expired. Uniquely, Pence also left a note for Vice President Harris.
In his inaugural address, President Biden focused on unity above all else. Biden asked Americans to “start afresh” and “begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another.” Simply put, “politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire that destroys everything in its path.”
With his new powers as President, Joe Biden will take a handful of actions on his first day as President to reverse the course of the country he now leads. He will issue executive orders re-entering the United States in the Paris Climate Accords and World Health Organization, rescinding large portions of the so-called ‘Muslim Ban,’ ending construction of the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, and reinforcing Biden’s policies and procedures to combat Covid-19. All of these measures stand in stark contrast to Biden’s predecessor, who put in place many of the policies Biden will end.
The Cabinet of the new administration is also starting to take shape, with Biden’s nominees for Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence all having their nomination hearings in the Senate on January 19. Once confirmed, the key national security figures will begin to shape the agenda of the new government.
Meanwhile, Vice President Harris has also had a lot on her plate post-inauguration. After her inauguration, Harris, in her role as President of the Senate, returned to the Capitol to swear-in three new senators, all of which were Democrats. They included the recently-elected Georgians, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, as well as Harris’s appointed successor in the Senate, Alex Padilla (Calif.).
With the additions of Senators Ossoff, Warnock, and Padilla, Democrats now control an evenly divided Senate, with Chuck Schumer functioning as the new Majority Leader. The Senate is now composed of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice President Harris breaking all ties, likely in favor of her own party.
All in the span of a few hours, Washington has been flipped upon its head. Democrats have taken back control of the presidency, vice presidency, and the Senate, and they are ready to pass a new agenda to deal with what they see as America’s predominant crises.
Among the first items on the to-do list of the Democratic trifecta, the government is to pass Pres. Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which seeks to extend a plethora of benefits while also increasing the minimum-wage, nationwide to $15 per hour. Biden also seeks to have Congress pass sweeping immigration legislation, which would grant amnesty to millions of immigrants— legal and undocumented.
For at least two years, the Democratic Party now controls all lawmaking aspects of the federal government. What they will do with this profound power is anyone’s guess, but with Americans heading back to the ballot box already next year for Midterms, Democrats will need to act quickly too, as former President Trump put it, make America great again.
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