Biden’s inauguration and actions so far


AFP via Getty Images

US President Joe Biden speaks on racial equity before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 26, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Editor

After a long election, Joe Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20 as the 46th President of the United States. The transfer of power is an extremely specific routine outlined in the U.S. Constitution. 

A president’s term is not over until noon on Jan. 20 after four years. In his last hours as president, Donald Trump boarded Air Force One to Florida, where he is currently staying at Mar-a-lago. This makes him the first president in 150 years, since Andrew Johnson, to not attend their successor’s inauguration. 

But before he left, Trump pardoned over 70 people, and commuted 70 other sentences. The full list can be found here

Biden was sworn in shortly before noon. At age 78, he is the oldest president the U.S. has had. Vice President Kamala Harris was next, solidifying her spot in history as the U.S.’s first female vice president, as well as the first Black woman and first Asian American to hold the role. Then Biden gave his inaugural address, promoting democracy and unity in America. He referred to the state of the country as an “uncivil war” that must end, as we all must work together. There were roughly 1,000 guests in attendance, all wearing masks and encouraged to follow social distance protocols.

The inauguration ceremony featured the National Anthem performed by Lady Gaga and a performance from Jennifer Lopez. Poet Amanda Gorman spoke, making her the youngest poet ever in an inauguration ceremony, at age 22. 

Biden then participated in a Pass in Review, a military tradition for passing power peacefully to the new Commander-in-Chief. In the afternoon, he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife Dr. Jill Biden, followed by Harris and her husband.

They returned to the White House by presidential escort. This is usually followed by a parade, which was done virtually this year. It was followed by a prime-time television special called “Celebrating America,” instead of the traditional inaugural ball. It featured celebrity performances, as well as appearances from Biden, Harris and former presidents. It ended with a fireworks display, which could be seen live from the White House and National Mall. 

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Kamala Harris is sworn as U.S. Vice President by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

But Biden didn’t waste any time getting straight to work, signing over a dozen executive actions the first day:

  • Appointed Jeffrey Zients as COVID-19 response coordinator and reinstated a National Security Council directorate group, disbanded by Trump, that focuses on health and biodefense
  • Required social distancing and masks on all federal property 
  • Reinstated ties with WHO, cut by Trump, with Dr. Anthony Fauci as head of the U.S. delegation 
  • Protected the DACA program and urged Congress to make paths for permanent status and citizenship for recipients 
  • Overturned Trump administration policy excluding noncitizens from census counts 
  • Overturned Trump administration call for aggressive deportation efforts 
  • Blocked deportation of Liberians who have been living in the U.S.
  • Ended Trump administration travel ban directed towards several Muslim and African countries, with continued support for visa processing and undoing damage 
  • Stopped construction on Trump administration’s wall at the Mexican Border, and ended the declaration of emergency that allocated funds for the wall 
  • Re-entered the U.S. in the Paris climate accords 
  • Reversed Keystone XL pipeline permit 
  • Reversed vehicle emission standard rollbacks 
  • Reversed decision to decrease size of national monuments 
  • Temporary moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • Re-established a group focused on the social costs of greenhouse gases
  • Ended the 1776 Commission from Trump administration about American history
  • Ended Trump administration limit on diversity and inclusion training within federal agencies and other institutions 
  • Appointed Susan Rice, head of Domestic Policy Council, as the head of an effort to prioritize systemic racism and started resources
  • Reinforced Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 regarding discrimination towards sexuality and gender, reversing Trump administration action 
  • Extended federal eviction moratorium and federal foreclosure moratorium 
  • Extended the pause on federal student loan interest and payments
  • Ordered all of his appointees to sign an ethics pledge 
  • Froze last-minute regulations from Trump, so his administration can evaluate 
U.S. President Joe Biden signs documents in the President’s Room at the U.S. Capitol following the 59th presidential inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2020. Biden will propose a broad immigration overhaul on his first day as president, including a shortened pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented migrants – a complete reversal from Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions and crackdowns, but one that faces major roadblocks in Congress. Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Bloomberg via Getty Images)


After that, Biden and his team planned themes for each day until the month ends, with potential to continue next month. Each day, legislation and decisions will be focused around that theme, in order to address everything in an organized and timely manner. So far, these executive orders include:

  • Ordered to secure supplies needed to combat COVID-19 with outlines to rush the process 
  • Increased FEMA reimbursement to states for the National Guard in response to COVID-19 
  • Expand COVID-19 testing 
  • Expand access to COVID-19 treatments and resources 
  • Improved collection and analysis methods of COVID-19 data 
  • Started vaccination campaign with deadlines and goals 
  • Guidance on how to safely reopen schools 
  • Provides OSHA guidance for keeping workers COVID-19 safe
  • Required face masks in airports and other areas for transportation, and while on planes, trains and buses.
  • Established COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force 
  • Supported international COVID-19 responses and re-instate the U.S’s role in global leadership
  • Provide government effort for equitable emergency economic relief
  • Increase the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits 
  • Pushed for stimulus checks to go to remaining eligible taxpayers 
  • Specified that citizens can refuse employment that could hurt their health and still qualify for unemployment 
  • Reversed Trump administration policy weakening labor unions 
  • Established $15 minimum wage for federal employees and contractors 

Citizens will likely see many more executive orders from Biden in the coming weeks.