President-elect Joe Biden made a sober entry into the country’s capital on Tuesday, ready to seize power as America emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, soaring unemployment and serious concerns about more violence as he prepares to take the oath.
Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak, had planned to take a train to Washington ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration day, but scrapped that plan in the aftermath of the January 6 uprising in the US capital.
Instead, he flew into a military air base just outside the capital on Tuesday afternoon and then motorcaded to Fortress DC – a city flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall shrouded in a maze of barricades high fence.
Just before Biden left for Washington, the United States reached another dismal milestone in the pandemic, surpassing 400,000 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“These are dark times,” Biden told dozens of supporters in an emotional broadcast in Delaware before leaving for Washington. “But there is always light.”
Biden lands in Washington and prepares to face the Covid-19 pandemic
Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool leader who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on day one – including reversing President Donald Trump’s attempt to leave Paris’ climate agreement and lifting his travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries. and extending the pandemic time limits for expulsions and student loan payments.
>> Biden’s first 100 days: What to expect on Covid-19, the economy and immigration
Trump will not attend the inauguration of Biden, the first outgoing president to skip the ceremony since Andrew Johnson more than a year and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Andrews’ joint base. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed that widespread fraud led to his election loss, said “best regards” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not say Biden’s name.
Trump also spent part of his last time in the White House hugging advisers who weigh last-minute pardons and awarding friendships.
Trump plans to leave Washington on Wednesday morning in a major air base ceremony that he helped plan himself.
Trump supporters are planning a welcome party in Mar-a-Lago
Biden at his farewell from Delaware, held at the National Guard / Reserve Center named after his deceased son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-being in the crowd, much like an Iowa line at the beginning of his long campaign journey.
“I will always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears when he made brief comments.
After arriving in Washington, Biden went straight to an evening ceremony at the Reflecting Pool near the Lincoln Memorial to honor American lives lost to COVID-19. He was joined by the Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke on the collective anxiety of a nation.
“For many months we have been grieving ourselves,” Harris said. “Tonight we mourn and start healing together.”
Biden followed with his own brief comments and told the Americans that “to heal we must remember.” Speaking with 400 lights representing the pandemic victims illuminated behind him, he met the statue of Abraham Lincoln, the president of the Civil War who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to leave at the end of the vigil, he encountered the black granite wall listing the 58,000 plus Americans who perished in Vietnam.
Inauguration organizers this week completed the installation of 200,000 US, state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a screen representing the American people who could not attend the inauguration, which is restricted under the strict security and Covid restrictions.
It is also a reminder of all the faces of the President-elect when he appears to rule the nation through the pandemic of infections and deaths soaring.
Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team intend to move quickly to speed up the distribution of vaccinations to troubled Americans and send his $ 1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. .
Biden also plans to unveil a comprehensive immigration bill on the first day of its administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the United States without legal status. That would be a major reversal of the Trump administration’s tight immigration policy.
Some leading Republicans have already received Biden’s immigration plan. “There are many issues that I think we can work with President-elect Biden, but an amnesty for people who are here illegally will not be one of them,” said Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Who is often a key player in the Senate’s immigration battles.
But Biden’s legislative ambitions can be mitigated by the harsh truth he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have narrow majorities in both the Senate and the House. His hopes of pushing forward with an avalanche of legislation in the first 100 days can also be slowed by a lawsuit against Trump.
When Biden went to Washington, five of his cabinet elections came before the Senate committees on Tuesday to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were questioned.
At his confirmation hearing, Yellen urged lawmakers to adopt Biden’s virus relief package, claiming that “the smartest thing we can do is take action.”
Aides say Biden will use Wednesday’s inaugural address – one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small personal group due to virus protocols and security issues and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes – to demand US unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can come past the dark moment by working together. To this end, he extended invitations to the four foremost Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress to attend the Mass with him in St. Louis. Matthew’s Cathedral before the inauguration ceremony.
When Biden presses for a two-party system, he also faces pressure from his left immediately, with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party urging the Senate Democrats to help by abolishing the House’s filibusters.
“We are pleased that President-elect Biden is ready to address the desperate needs of the American people and to present a Covid assistance proposal that addresses the many issues we face,” the progressive groups Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and New Deal Strategies wrote in a memo on Monday. “We hope that ten Senate Republicans will support it, but we are not holding our breath. The big question is, what happens when Republicans block Biden? ”
Em Tweet – Sunrise Movement Biden Agenda
Democrats won the presidency and the Senate / House majority thanks to historic participation.
Now they must use that majority to meet the needs of the people who supported their victory:
😷COVID relief🗳️A functioning democracy♻️Climate action that drives an economic recovery pic.twitter.com/Y1FV2Saab3
– Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) January 15, 2021
Prior to Biden’s arrival, 12 U.S. Army National Guard members were removed from the president’s inaugural security mission after being found to have ties to right-wing militias or publish extremist views online, according to two U.S. officials. There was no threat to Biden, they said.
>> Faith testing for Biden’s inauguration addresses racism in the ranks
The officers, a senior intelligence officer and an army officer who were informed of the matter, did not say to which fringe group the guards belonged or what unit they served in. The officers were not authorized to speak in public and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.