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President Biden takes office sets agenda

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Biden, Jr., was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Mr. Biden said in his inaugural address. “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause. The cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.”

Mr. Biden said the country has been reminded that “democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

In the hours after his address, the new president took action to target some of former President Donald Trump’s most controversial initiatives and bolster the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. President Biden signed a stack of executive orders and actions on immigration, climate change, COVID-19, racial equality and more. 

Biden takes over at a time of tremendous upheaval and division in the U.S., fueled both by Donald Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans. 

The inauguration ceremony earlier in the day was unlike any the country has ever seen, with a new president addressing an empty National Mall while thousands of National Guard troops stood watch over downtown Washington. The Mall was filled with small flags representing Americans who might otherwise have been in attendance, were it not for the pandemic.

Instead of inaugural balls, Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris opted for a 90-minute televised special called “Celebrating America” where they both spoke. Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton appeared as well. The special was live on all broadcast networks, and was hosted by Tom Hanks and featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend and more. Katy Perry capped off the night with “Firework” before a fireworks display that Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched from the White House and Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff watched from the National Mall. 

Members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and outgoing Vice President Mike Pence were on hand to witness Biden’s swearing-in.

Former President Trump, however, was not there, having left Washington earlier Wednesday morning. Mr. Trump instead addressed supporters before boarding Air Force One for the last time as president as he flew to Florida.