Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Democrat and former vice president, was sworn in on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States. Kamala D. Harris, a U.S. senator, became vice president.
Inauguration Day also marks the end of President Donald Trump's single term in office and comes just two weeks after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol seeking to interrupt the counting of Electoral College votes.
- Arizonans were on hand at Wednesday's inauguration ceremonies, but it was a small crowd because of COVID-19 precautions.
- Issues that affect Arizonans came up in Biden's first speech as president: COVID-19, immigration, economic turmoil and more.
Follow coverage of the Biden inauguration by Republic and USA TODAY Network reporters here.
5:40 p.m.: Biden signs bevy of executive orders on first day
President Joe Biden wasted little time on Wednesday in working to undo some of former President Donald Trump's policies that were anathema to Democrats during his four years in office.
Sitting in the Oval Office, Biden signed an order requiring masks and social distancing on federal property, followed by an order to provide support to underserved communities. As part of the third order he signed, Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change, a treaty the United States formally exited in November after Trump withdrew in 2017.
Biden signed 15 executive orders and two other directives on Wednesday, and several more will come over the next 10 days. The first three were signed on camera from the Oval Office.
Biden has ended construction of Trump's signature wall on the U.S.-Mexican border by proclaiming the "immediate termination" of the national emergency declaration that Trump used to fund it. Biden also rejoined the World Health Organization, which Trump abandoned in July.
Biden also took executive action to reverse Trump's ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries.
For a full list of executive order actions, visit USA TODAY.
— Joey Garrison and Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY
5 p.m.: What did Jennifer Lopez say in Spanish at inauguration?
Jennifer Lopez took the stage during Joe Biden's inauguration and surprised many by sending a message to the nation. In Spanish.
After singing “This Land Is Your Land” on national TV, the Puerto Rican singer said the following words in Spanish: "Una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos."
What does it mean? What she said is an excerpt from the Pledge of Allegiance: "One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
Moments later, social media exploded with some celebrities and fans applauding the action.
After the message, she sang "America the Beautiful" to close her participation in the event.
Lopez has recorded several songs in Spanish. In 2020, she participated in the Super Bowl halftime show alongside Shakira. They were the first two Latina artists to headline the halftime show of the big game.
Although many Latino celebrities have participated in important presidential events in the past, there is no record of an artist who sent a message in Spanish during a presidential inauguration.
He is not a celebrity, but a pastor named Luis Leon said a few words in Spanish during a prayer at the second inauguration of Barack Obama in 2013.
In 2001, Ricky Martin sang "La Copa de La Vida" during George Bush's inaugural gala, although it was not during the ceremony.
— Javier Arce and Richard Ruelas
4:15 p.m.: Cesar Chavez bust sits behind Biden's Oval Office desk
President Joe Biden made his first public appearance from the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon following his inauguration, as he signed a stack of 17 executive orders on a wide range of issues.
As he sat at the Resolute Desk, the bronze bust of Arizona native and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez was newly perched on the table behind him, next to several framed family photographs.
Chavez was born in Yuma in 1927 and died in San Luis in 1993. He founded what would later become the United Farmworkers Union in the 1960s, and led several strikes and marches over the next several decades to improve conditions for farmworkers in the country, emphasizing nonviolent protests.
“Si se puede,” a chant that became popular during his movement, has been used for many other progressive causes. Most notably, former President Barack Obama, for whom Biden served as vice president, borrowed the phrase and used the English-language equivalent, “Yes, we can,” as his slogan for his successful 2008 presidential campaign.
Biden selected Chavez’s granddaughter, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who worked in the Obama administration and in Biden’s campaign, as his director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Former President Bill Clinton awarded Cesar Chavez the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously, and he received an honorary degree from Arizona State University for his work on behalf of farmworkers. His birthday, March 31, is recognized as a federal commemorative holiday and is observed in Arizona and several other states.
— Rafael Carranza
2:55 p.m.: Biden expected to take executive actions on immigration
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden is expected to issue several executive actions pausing the construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and reversing several of his predecessor's policies on immigration.
As he prepared for his swearing-in at the Capitol, Biden published a list of 17 actions and orders on a wide range of issues that he is expected to sign Wednesday. The majority of those actions will reverse decisions made by former President Donald Trump.
In keeping with his campaign promise, Biden is expected to issue a proclamation pausing border wall construction and rescinding a 2-year-old national emergency declaration that Trump used to divert $10.5 billion in funds from other sources within the federal government, most of it from the military.
He also is expected to release a sweeping plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system, including an 8-year pathway to citizenship for an estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants, shorter than the 13-year pathway debated in previously bipartisan immigration bills introduced in Congress.
— Rafael Carranza, Daniel Gonzalez and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
2:30 p.m.: Bidens enter White House; Parade Across America starts
Biden held the hand of his wife, Jill Biden, as he walked one block from 15th Street to the White House. The couple waved at the small crowd that was in attendance. Biden ran over to greet television personality Al Roker at one point.
“It feels great. It feels good,” Biden said.
Another reporter asked whether he has a message for former President Donald Trump. Biden did not respond.
When they got to the White House door, the Bidens embraced each other as a military band played "Hail to the Chief." They then entered with their family and others.
Because of health precautions during the coronavirus pandemic, a virtual “Parade Across America” replaced the traditional inauguration parade. The virtual event kicked off as Biden arrived at the White House.
Trailing the Bidens in the escort was music from the marching band of the University of Delaware, Biden’s alma mater, and Howard University, where Vice President Harris graduated.
— Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
1:15 p.m.: Biden, former presidents honor Tomb of Unknown Soldier
Joined by three of his predecessors, newly sworn-in President Joe Biden led a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in his first trip as commander in chief.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris saluted the tomb around 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday as a solider performed “Taps,” the traditional call played at military funerals and flag ceremonies, on the bugle.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with their spouses, joined Biden and Harris for the ceremony. Donald Trump, who left Washington for Florida before the inauguration, was not present.
— Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
12:35 p.m.: Read Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem
Amanda Gorman, the nation's first national youth poet laureate, made history again Wednesday as the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
Gorman, 22, performed an original poem titled "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, continuing a tradition that has included such celebrated poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
In the roughly five-minute reading of her poem, Gorman called for healing and unity, alluding to the pro-Trump rally two weeks ago that turned into a violent storming of the U.S. Capitol. She also celebrated the beauty of the country's diversity and called on Americans to rise to the occasion and leave their country better than they found it.
To read the full poem, go to USA TODAY.
— Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY
12 p.m.: Here’s the rest of the day’s schedule
Now that the inauguration itself at the White House is complete, President Joe Biden has a few more events to commemorate the day. Here’s what to come, in Arizona time:
12:25 p.m.: Arlington National Cemetery, Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: Biden and Harris, and their spouses, will visit Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton, also will attend the ceremony at Arlington.
1:15 p.m.: Biden will then receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House.
The escort will include representatives of every branch of the military, including the U.S. Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps from the 3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard.”
A “virtual parade” will then occur, which will be televised and feature performances in communities across the country.
The parade will celebrate America’s heroes, highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions, and reflect the country’s diversity, heritage and resilience, inaugural planners said.
The event will celebrate the nation's heroes and highlight the diversity, heritage and resilience of the country, the Presidential Inaugural Committee said Monday.
3:15 p.m.: Biden will sign executive orders and "other presidential actions" in the Oval Office.
— Savannah Behrmann and Michael Collins, USA TODAY
11:30 a.m.: Arizona politicians react to Biden’s swearing-in
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., was the first of the state’s congressional Republicans to acknowledge President Joe Biden and say she wants to work cooperatively with the new administration — where she can.
“Congratulations to President Joe Biden on his inauguration. Although I didn't support his candidacy, I will work with him and his administration on items that we can agree on for the good of all Arizonans and Americans,” Lesko wrote on Twitter after the inaugural.
Several of the state’s Democratic members of Congress were quick to congratulate Biden on taking office, but the partisan division that has defined national politics since at least the Obama years seemed to simmer beneath the surface on Wednesday.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., posted messages praising former President Donald Trump for four great years and repeating a video message from former first lady Melania Trump.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., another Trump ally who has said Biden’s election win was “illegitimate,” remained silent throughout the historic shift in power.
Not long after the inauguration was complete, Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., congratulated Biden and said only that it was time to get busy.
“I look forward to the 117th Congress getting to work on behalf of the millions of Americans we represent,” he said.
Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, and his son were seated front and center during Biden’s speech, according to the governor’s chief of staff.
“I congratulate President Biden and Vice President Harris and look forward to working with this administration to advocate for the people of Arizona,” Ducey said after the speech. “Our state and nation are facing many challenges, and it’s critical that we work together to create jobs, educate our youth, protect public safety and distribute the vaccine.”
The state’s Democrats offered easy praise.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., called the Biden administration “a new day in America.”
“It's a day for all Americans who love this country, love their neighbors, and want to see everyone not just scraping by to survive, but thrive,” he said.
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., struck a bipartisan tone in welcoming the new president.
“There’s no shortage of challenges ahead of us, so I look forward to tackling them together with the new administration and Republicans and Democrats in the Senate,” he said.
— Ronald J. Hansen
10:50 a.m.: More from Biden's speech
President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony has concluded, following performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks and national youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman.
After being sworn in as president 12 minutes before noon in Washington, D.C., Biden began his inaugural address declaring, “Democracy has prevailed.” He later emphasized that he would be a president for “all Americans” and called for unity amid a turbulent, hostile time for the nation’s politics.
“This is America's day,” Biden said. “This is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal of resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew. And America has risen to the challenge."
Biden noted the resilience of the country enduring through violence, whether during the Civil War, protests 108 years ago against women’s suffrage, or the riot Jan. 6.
“Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome, as was mentioned earlier, completed during the Civil War, when the Union itself was literally hanging in the balance,” Biden said. “Yet we endured, we prevailed.”
Biden said the country was being tested, but would rise to resolve disputes without violence.
“Here we stand across the Potomac, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace,” Biden said. “Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground.
“It did not happen,” Biden added. “It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever.”
To the international audience, Biden said he knows that the world is watching.
His message to those outside the nation’s borders, he said, is: “America has been tested and we’re stronger for it.”
Biden promised to repair alliances with other countries and to “engage with the world once again.”
Biden called on Americans to combat the raging coronavirus pandemic as one nation – and said it must in order to prevail.
"My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we're going to need each other,” Biden said. “We must finally meet this pandemic as one nation. We will get through this together -- together."
Biden then led a silent prayer for the 400,000 Americans who have died from the COVID-19 virus.
— Bart Jansen, Maureen Groppe and Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
10:30 a.m.: Dan Quayle didn't want to miss this inauguration
Former Vice President Dan Quayle, who served with President George H.W. Bush between 1989 and 1993 and lives in Paradise Valley, was on the platform to witness the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Quayle has attended every inauguration since 1977, when he was a new member of Congress watching as Jimmy Carter was sworn in.
Ahead of the ceremony, Quayle told The Arizona Republic it was an important rite of passage he did not want to miss.
“One, it just shows the importance of the peaceful transfer of power to show bipartisan support, and hopefully we’ll be able to come together” as a country, he said. “I’ve known Joe Biden for over 40 years, so I hope to be able to wish him well.”
Quayle said Biden will work to try to quickly move his agenda through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Senate, but presumed it could be gummed-up in short order by politics.
“I know he’s going to have a big challenge, particularly from the hardcore left of his party, but he can hopefully be able to do it,” Quayle said.
Quayle said he was sickened two weeks ago by the mob of rioters who breached the Capitol in support of former President Donald Trump: “I was disgusted, like most Americans who were appalled that it happened,” he said.
Those who committed crimes should be brought to justice quickly, he said.
— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
10:15 a.m.: Biden emphasizes unity, urgency in first speech as president
In a call for unity, President Joe Biden said, “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire” as he called for Americans to “start fresh” and come together to meet the crises of the times.
“I believe America is so much better than this,” Biden said, noting that throughout history America has prevailed over division.
"I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new,” he said. “History, faith and reason show the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect."
He added: "This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this challenge as the United States of America. I guarantee you that if we do that we will not fail.”
Biden promised to press forward with “speed and urgency,” saying there is much to do in this winter of peril.”
Few people have been more challenged or found a time more challenging, Biden said. Many jobs have been lost, businesses have closed and there’s a cry for racial justice.
“The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer,” Biden said.
He pledged to confront and defeat the rise of political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
But doing so will require the most important part of democracy, he added: unity.
“For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage,” he said. “Unity is the path forward.”
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama sat behind him. Biden said he spoke with former President Jimmy Carter, who was unable to attend, but whom Biden saluted for his lifetime of service.
Biden’s immediate predecessor, former President Donald Trump, flew to Florida on Wednesday morning rather than attend the event. Former Vice President Mike Pence did attend the event.
— Joey Garrison, Maureen Groppe and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
9:50 a.m.: Biden is sworn in as 46th president
Joe Biden, a Democrat who beat incumbent President Donald Trump in November, was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States in Washington, D.C., at around 10 a.m. Arizona time.
The inauguration puts a long, bitter election process to an end. Trump repeatedly, erroneously claimed he had won the election. His supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the Electoral College’s vote-counting process on Jan. 6, just two weeks ago.
Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator, was sworn in as vice president, before Biden on Wednesday. She is the first female, Black and Asian American to hold the office.
Biden’s presidency comes as Democrats took the U.S. Senate and maintained their edge in the U.S. House, giving them control over the lawmaking branches of government.
Trump left the White House earlier in the morning after a short speech, ending his single term in office.
— Rachel Leingang
9:35 a.m.: Pomp and circumstance … for a smaller crowd
The crowd may be smaller, but there’s still a lot of pomp and circumstance for Joe Biden’s inaugural.
The front of the Capitol is adorned with large American flags. The Marine Band is serenading guests with patriotic music. The arrival of dignitaries is announced over a loudspeaker and with a drumroll.
Tickets for the swearing-in ceremony were strictly limited as a safety precaution because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means a much smaller crowd than previous inaugurals. In past years, the West Front lawn was packed, and those who weren’t fortunate enough to get a seat were jammed into a standing-room-only section.
This time, seats are spaced six feet apart as a COVID-19 safety protocol. And what is normally the standing-room-only section is filled by members of the news media.
— Michael Collins, USA TODAY
9:10 a.m.: What could a Biden administration mean for Arizona?
Arizonans, like much of the country, could see the effects of a changing administration on issues like COVID-19 and immigration.
Here’s some of The Arizona Republic's reporting on the incoming Biden administration and how it could affect the state:
President-elect Joe Biden could help speed up the vaccine rollout in Arizona, where the effort has had a slow start, but it's unclear how much effect he will have here on mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
Biden has promised to reboot the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic response, make executive changes in immigration and propose more durable legislative reforms, and jump-start the economy — all in his first 100 days.
Arizona and its majority-Democratic congressional delegation is in a new position of having power, seniority and political value at a moment when the party assumes control of the federal government this week.
This week’s episode of The Gaggle podcast dives into Biden’s plans for the first 100 days. In the episode, hosts Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ronald J. Hansen are joined by health reporter Stephanie Innes and immigration reporter Daniel Gonzalez to break down how the administration's early policy moves could affect Arizonans.
— The Republic
8:45 a.m.: Sinema will continue to seek compromise with GOP
Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration today, saying it signals a commitment as a “model for democracy and peaceful transition of power.”
Sinema endorsed Biden during the election and signaled in a statement issued ahead of his swearing-in that while she supported him over Trump, she disagrees with some of his policy proposals.
“Now is also the time to deliver on the needs of everyday Americans struggling with the health and economic consequences of the pandemic,” Sinema said. “President Biden and I do not agree on every issue, and I will always vote based on what's right for Arizona. I pledge to continue working across the aisle, seeking compromise instead of sowing division — because we are in this together. Regardless of who each of us voted for, Americans deserve a government that is worthy of us and working for us.”
— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
8:30 a.m.: Which Arizona elected officials aren't attending?
At least three members of Arizona’s congressional delegation will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said they won’t be on hand, with each citing either health or security concerns.
Three Republican members of the state’s delegation didn’t respond to repeated requests for their plans.
A spokesman for Grijalva said he will participate “virtually due to security concerns and practicing physical distancing due to the ongoing pandemic.”
Grijalva was among at least two dozen Democratic lawmakers who didn’t attend President Donald Trump’s inauguration four years ago. In that case, Grijalva boycotted the event, citing the “disrespect” to millions of Americans that Trump’s incoming administration represented.
Kirkpatrick, who has largely avoided Washington throughout the pandemic, is doing so again.
“I will not be traveling to Washington, D.C., to witness this moment in-person — both out of an abundance of caution and to lead by example during this pandemic — I will join millions of Americans in celebrating the beginning of this new administration by taking part in some of the many great virtual events planned for this week.”
Lesko’s office cited security and travel restrictions, though that isn’t stopping many members of Congress from attending.
“Congresswoman Lesko will not be attending the inauguration due to vastly increased security and subsequent difficulty traveling throughout Washington, D.C. She looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration for the good of all Arizonans and Americans,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.
Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar and David Schweikert would not address their plans for the inaugural.
— Ronald J. Hansen
8:25 a.m.: Which Arizonans are attending?
Prominent Arizonans from both political parties have said they will be at President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremonies.
- Cindy McCain, the widow of U.S. Sen. John McCain. A Republican, she endorsed Biden in the 2020 election.
- Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, who said he will be "honored" to represent Arizona at the events.
- Arizona's two Democratic U.S. senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly. Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Kelly's wife, also will attend.
- Former Vice President Dan Quayle, a Republican who lives in Arizona.
- U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton, both Democrats who campaigned for Biden, as well as U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran
- Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, who said upon his arrival at the Capitol on Wednesday that he thinks, "Americans will sleep easier knowing that we have a more steady hand in the White House. Regardless of philosophy or disagreement, we have a steady hand."
Proud to represent the state of Arizona at our nation’s 59th presidential inauguration with my son Joe and honor a peaceful transition of power. pic.twitter.com/84feKkbYC7— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) January 20, 2021
— Rachel Leingang and Ledyard King
8 a.m.: Trump has left the White House
Trump departs as Biden starts his day
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have left Joint Base Andrews at about 7 a.m. Arizona time on Air Force One, headed for Florida and their home at Mar-a-Lago following a speech to supporters.
President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, is attending Mass at St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington before traveling to the U.S. Capitol for the start of his inauguration ceremony at 10 a.m. Arizona time.
Before his departure, Trump bid farewell to supporters and family Wednesday for one final time as commander-in-chief in a nine-minute speech recalling his administration's successes over the last four years.
"We were not a regular administration," he told a crowd of supporters, family and staff at Joint Base Andrews, located in Maryland just outside Washington, D.C.
"What we’ve done has been amazing by any standard," Trump said, recounting the highlights of his administration he has often noted during campaign rallies – the creation of Space Force, changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the 2017 tax bill.
The event had the look and feel of a Trump campaign rally, with Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" blaring from loudspeakers as Marine One arrived early Wednesday morning.
The president's children and their spouses as well as his chief of staff Mark Meadows were all in attendance, lined up along the side of the podium as the president spoke. Trump took the stage as "Hail to the Chief" played over a 21-gun salute and the crowd cheered, "We love you!"
"I wish the new administration great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success," Trump said of incoming President Biden, never mentioning his successor by name. "They have the foundation to do something really spectacular."
"I hope they don’t raise your taxes," Trump said in one of his only references to Biden. "But if you do, I told you so."
— Courtney Subramanian and John Fritze, USA TODAY
7:30 a.m.: Here's the Inauguration Day schedule
President-elect Joe Biden will take office on Wednesday in a day of ceremonies that will look different than years past because of COVID-19 precautions.
Here's a full list of inauguration-related activities for this week.
Starting at about 8 a.m. Arizona time, there's a ceremony for young Americans.
Sometime after 9 a.m., the inauguration ceremonies are expected to begin.
The Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, will give the invocation. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia.
Lady Gaga, who campaigned with and performed for Biden during the election, will perform the national anthem.
A poetry reading will come from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, will deliver the benediction.
Biden is expected to be sworn in about 10 a.m. Arizona time, followed by a speech.
— Savannah Behrmann and Michael Collins, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Inauguration updates: Biden signs multiple executive orders undoing Trump actions