The inauguration of Joe Biden

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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4:57 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Harris swears in new Democratic senators

From CNN's Alex Rogers

Senate TV
Senate TV

Kamala Harris is on the Senate floor for the first time since becoming vice president and is swearing in three senators: Georgia’s Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, as well as Harris’ replacement in California, Alex Padilla.

The swearing-in of the three new senators will be groundbreaking. Warnock and Ossoff will be the first Black and first Jewish senators, respectively, representing Georgia, while Padilla will be California's first Latino senator.

Ossoff, 33, will also be the youngest senator in the chamber, and the youngest Democrat to serve in the Senate since President Joe Biden, who was sworn into the chamber at the age of 30 in 1973.

Remember: After Warnock, Ossoff and Padilla are sworn in, the party breakdown of the Senate will be 50-50. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer will become the first New Yorker and first Jewish lawmaker to become Senate majority leader.

Harris will wield power as the Senate's crucial tie-breaking vote, helping the Biden administration confirm its appointments and giving Democrats the gavels of committees in charge of holding oversight hearings and crafting far-reaching legislation.

See the moment:

4:52 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Harris arrives at Capitol for swearing-in of new senators

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett

Senate TV
Senate TV

Vice President Kamala Harris returned to the Capitol to swear in three new senators on Wednesday: Georgia's Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, and California's Alex Padilla. 

4:44 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden is in the Oval Office for the first time since being sworn in

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

President Joe Biden is in the Oval Office for the first time since being sworn in, a White House officials tells CNN. 

A former White House official told CNN that former President Trump left his departure note for Biden on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, given that's the same place Barack Obama had left his. 

4:56 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Harris departs White House ahead of swearing-in of 3 Democratic senators on Capitol Hill

From CNN's Alex Rogers

Senate TV
Senate TV

Vice President Kamala Harris has left the White House grounds and is headed to the Capitol, where she is expected to swear in three new Democratic senators.

Those three senators are Georgia’s Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, as well as Harris’ replacement in California, Alex Padilla. The Senate convened at 4:30 p.m. ET today.

The swearing-in of the three new senators will be groundbreaking. Warnock and Ossoff will be the first Black and first Jewish senators, respectively, representing Georgia, while Padilla will be California's first Latino senator.

Remember: After Warnock, Ossoff and Padilla are sworn in, the party breakdown of the Senate will be 50-50. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer will become the first New Yorker and first Jewish lawmaker to become Senate majority leader.

Harris will wield power as the Senate's crucial tie-breaking vote, helping the Biden administration confirm its appointments and giving Democrats the gavels of committees in charge of holding oversight hearings and crafting far-reaching legislation.

4:44 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Trump's letter is waiting for Biden on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

One of the first things President Biden will see when he sits down in the Oval Office for the first time today is a letter left there by his predecessor.

A former White House official tells CNN that former President Trump left his departure note for Biden on the Resolute Desk, given that's the same place Barack Obama had left his. 

4:42 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden's Cabinet nominees could be stalled until Senate cuts deal on power-sharing agreement

From CNN's Manu Raju

President Joe Biden's Cabinet nominees Janet Yellen, Alejandro Mayorkas, Avril Haines, Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken.
President Joe Biden's Cabinet nominees Janet Yellen, Alejandro Mayorkas, Avril Haines, Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken. AFP & Getty Images

Many of President Joe Biden's Cabinet nominees could be stalled until Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer cut a deal on a resolution outlining how they'll share power in the Senate, GOP and Democratic senators said Wednesday.

That's because the power-sharing agreement will specify how many Democratic and Republican senators will sit on the various committees and will formally allow Democrats to assume the chairmanships of the key committees.

Without an agreement, the committee ratios from the last Congress, when Republicans maintained control of the Senate, will continue. And that means that Biden will need cooperation from Republicans to begin committee consideration, or he'll have to wait until McConnell and Schumer reach an agreement on the resolution.

 "Committees, I think, will be stalled until it's agreed to," Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Senate GOP leadership, told CNN.

Some context: That raises the stakes for the talks between McConnell and Schumer, which hit a snag on Tuesday when the GOP leader demanded that Schumer take off the table the possibility that Democrats may try to gut the filibuster, which is the potent stall tactic that could derail legislation absent 60 votes.

Many Democrats have called for changes to filibuster rules to reduce the threshold to 51 votes, but Schumer lacks enough support within his caucus to invoke the so-called nuclear option to change the rules.

Nevertheless, McConnell has asked Schumer for assurances that the filibuster will be spared, something that Schumer has yet to do. Schumer has called on the Senate rules to mirror the 2001 agreement when the chamber was also initially split 50-50, with both sides holding an equal number of seats on committees and tied votes on legislation and nominations would go straight to the floor.

The two most likely nominees who might get confirmed quickly are Janet Yellen to the Treasury Department and Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence, but there still needs to be an agreement to hold votes on the nominations. It remains to be seen when other nominees might be considered.

4:40 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Today is a momentous day for "little Black girls around the world," says CNN's Bakari Sellers

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Watching Kamala Harris enter the White House grounds as the nation's first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president will resonate across the globe, said CNN's Bakari Sellers this afternoon. 

"For little Black girls around the world, today means so much to watch her walk in with the swag, watch her walk in with the dignity, to hear [reporters] say 'Madam vice president,' it just means so much," he said, as Harris made her way from Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House grounds with her family. 

"Today she stands on the shoulders of Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, ...Shirley Chisholm ... and she stands on the shoulders of Hillary Clinton and she has shattered so many glass ceilings that and even if you didn't vote for her or support her, this is her story that we're watching," continued Sellers. 

"Today is just an awesome day," he added. "I hope and I know my wife is sitting at home watching with our two girls balling at the history that's being made with Kamala Devi Harris." 

Watch the moment:

4:21 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden is now at the White House. Here's a look at what Inauguration Day events come next.

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Joe Biden is now at the White House and Vice President Kamala Harris is at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building after being sworn in earlier today at the US Capitol.

They also visited Arlington National Cemetery and were joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

A virtual "Parade Across America" is happening now. According to a Presidential Inaugural Committee news release, the parade will include "diverse, dynamic performances in communities in all 56 states and territories, celebrate America’s heroes, and highlight the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country."

Here's a look at the events that will come next:

  • 5:15 p.m. ET: Biden signs executive orders and other presidential actions.
  • 5:45 p.m. ET: Biden swears in presidential appointees in a virtual ceremony.
  • 7 p.m. ET: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds the first press briefing.
  • 8:48 p.m. ET: Biden and Harris deliver remarks at the “Celebrating America” inaugural program.

Read more about today's events here.

4:15 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Queen Elizabeth sent a private congratulatory message to President Biden 

From CNN’s Max Foster

Queen Elizabeth sent a private congratulatory message ahead of the inauguration to President Biden, a royal source said Wednesday. 

The letter’s content was not disclosed. It is normal for the Queen to congratulate a fellow head of state at their inauguration.