By Hallum Cowell | Head of Politics
After a tumultuous election period, Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. At the event held at midday EST(5pm GMT) Joe Biden and Kamala Harris began their Presidential and Vice Presidential terms.
Due to the recent Capitol riots and the current COVID-19 pandemic the event has been scaled back. In normal years crowds of people would gather in the National Mall in front of the Capitol building to see the swearing in of the new American President.
Biden’s first Presidential Speech
In a speech following President Biden’s inauguration he thanked a number of important political figures including House Speaker Pelosi and Former Vice President Mike Pence. He added that “democracy has prevailed” and that there is “much to repair, restore, rebuild and to gain”.
Referring to COVID-19 as a “once in a lifetime virus” he also recognised the “cry for racial freedom” which will be “deferred no longer”. He also referenced climate change, domestic terrorism, and the need for unity.
Trump departs and security concerns
To much relief the inauguration went ahead with no security issues. 25,000 National Guard troops had been deployed around the capitol building and much of the surrounding area had been locked down in preparation for the event.
Earlier in the day outgoing President Donald Trump, who chose not to attend the inauguration, gave his final speech in which he said he was “truly proud of what we have achieved together” and that he “prays for the success” of the new administration. Trump is the first President not to attend his successor’s inauguration ceremony since 1869. Former Vice President Mike Pence did however attend the inauguration.
A Biden Presidency
Biden enters his Presidential term with control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. This, along with his efforts to secure a more bipartisan attitude in Congress, could make securing policy objectives easier for the Democrats. Biden has promised to quickly push through a number of executive orders aimed at tackling COVID-19, climate change and racial inequality.
On climate, Biden pledges to re-join the Paris Climate Accord and to direct government agencies to revise emissions standards and fuel economy. Additionally, the new US President is looking to overturn Trump era policies of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and natural gas leasing.
In stark contrast to Donald Trump who said that COVID-19 will “disappear”, Biden is planning on taking measures to tackle the pandemic in the US, which has already claimed the lives of over 400,000 people in the country. These measures include rejoining the World Health Organisation and creating a COVID-19 response co-ordinator.
Racial inequality, and the frustration of its victims, has been a defining element of American politics. Amid 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests Biden pledged to improve the situation. He has pledged to stop the construction of the border wall, repeal Trump’s Patriotic Curriculum and reverse the ban on travel for some Muslim groups among other new policies and reversals.
For now at least, a significant portion of Biden’s Presidency seems focused on a reversal of Trump’s legacy.
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