Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. became the 46th U.S. president on Wednesday after he was sworn in, completing a memorable transfer of leadership in recent American history.
Biden's running mate, former Senator Kamala Devi Harris, was sworn in as Vice President of the US.
The 78-year-old took the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, with his left hand on a family Bible. Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice, administered the vice-presidential oath of office to Harris. In his address, Biden called on Americans to do away with anything that can divide them but rather look to mending bridges.
“On this hallowed ground where, just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries,” Biden said.
At 78, Biden is the oldest American president to be sworn into office. At the same time, VP Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black American, and first South Asian American to become vice president.
Biden's presidency takes effect in a time when the US is facing the coronavirus pandemic much worse than the rest of the world, accounting for more deaths to the virus than any other nation.
Biden, a Democrat, won the presidency in November at his third attempt. His first attempt came during the 1988 presidential cycle, followed by a 2008 Democratic Primaries loss to become his boss, President Barack Obama. Joe Biden served two terms as Obama’s vice president from 2009 to 2016. He took the job after 36 years in the Senate representing Delaware.
Kamala is a daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants and has made history throughout her career.
As a U.S. senator for California, Harris, 56, was the second Black woman and first South Asian American to serve in the upper chamber. Before her Senate tenure, Harris was the first female, Black and South Asian American attorney general of California. Harris also served as district attorney of San Francisco.
After her own inauguration, Harris is set to swear in three barrier-breaking senators in her new role as president of the upper chamber.
Alex Padilla, appointed by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as Harris’ successor, will be the first Latino senator from the state. Following competitive January runoff elections, the Rev. Raphael Warnock will be the first Black senator from Georgia, and Jon Ossoff will be the first Jewish senator from the Peach State.
The new Democratic senators will create a 50-50 split between the two-party caucuses in the Senate, giving Democrats a slim majority with Harris as the tie-breaking vote.