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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1:33 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden participates in signing ceremony at Capitol 

CNN
CNN

President Biden will sign three documents while in the President's Room at the Capitol.

These are the documents he's singing:

  • Inauguration Day Proclamation
  • Nominations to Cabinet Positions 
  • Nominations to sub-Cabinet Positions

Following this signing ceremony, Biden, hosted by the Commander of Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, will review the readiness of military troops on the East front of the Capitol. Every branch of the military will be represented in this event.

Biden will then travel to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Bidens will be joined by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.

1:15 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

GOP lawmakers praise Biden speech, call for unity and see opportunity to turn the page

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

Many Republican lawmakers are praising President Biden’s speech and his handling of the transition – including the GOP senators whom Biden will need to advance his agenda.

Mitt Romney told reporters that Biden’s speech was “very powerful,” while Sen. Pat Toomey hailed Biden’s call for unity.

Sen. Lisa Murkowksi said Biden’s remarks were well done and “what we needed.”

Sen. Susan Collins said Biden “struck the right themes of unity, a call for us to come together to stop viewing one another as adversaries but rather as fellow Americans,” and she stands “ready to work with him (Biden) to advance common goals.”

Collins says the Republican party “remains united around certain principles that transcend certain personalities.”

1:12 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Whitehouse.gov relaunches to reflect Biden presidency

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

whitehouse.gov
whitehouse.gov

The whitehouse.gov website has been updated to reflect Joe Biden is the new President. It now also includes a Spanish language version of the White House’s communications.

La Casa Blanca’s Spanish language communications went dark in 2017 when Trump took office.

Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both maintained a Spanish version of the White House website.

You can view the archived White House website for now former US President Trump here.

1:12 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden and Harris are two ends of the experience spectrum

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

There are obvious differences between President Biden and Vice President Harris (race and gender), but it’s really worth thinking how different they are in terms of their political background. 

Biden has waited forever for this moment. He first ran for president more than 30 years ago. He was first elected to the Senate nearly 50 years ago. 

Harris’ trek to the vice presidency was much shorter in political life. She was elected attorney general of California only 10 years ago. Harris came to the Senate just four years ago. 

It’s one of the most lopsided differences in favor of the president in terms of electoral experience for any president and vice president. 

Usually, presidents choose vice presidents who have more experience than they do (e.g. Trump and Pence or Obama and Biden).

You probably have to go all the way back to the Nixon/Agnew administration to see an instance of a president having so much more elected experience than the vice resident. 

It’ll be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out this time around. 

12:53 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

President Joe Biden sends first tweet as POTUS

President Joe Biden tweeted from the @POTUS account for the first time following the inauguration ceremony, writing: "There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face."

He continued: "That's why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families."

Vice President Kamala Harris has also taken control of @VP account.

1:14 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Vice President Harris escorts former Vice President Pence down Capitol steps

Vice President Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff are escorting former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence down the steps of the US Capitol after the inauguration ceremony.

The group spoke for a bit and could be seen laughing together.

1:21 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

World leaders congratulate newly inaugurated President Biden and Vice President Harris

From CNN’s Valentina Di Donato and Vedika Sud

World leaders, politicians and religious leaders congratulated the newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in a series of messages today.

Here's what they said:

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

"Congratulations to President @JoeBiden and Vice President @KamalaHarris on your inauguration. Japan and the United States are allies tied firmly by bonds and shared universal values."

Chile's President Sebastian Piñera

"Today @JoeBiden takes office as the 46th U.S. President. His Administration will have the mission of healing the soul of the country and strengthening civic friendship. The commitment to democracy, freedom and human rights recognizes no borders. I wish President Biden the best."

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

He wished President-elect Joe Biden well ahead of his inauguration on Wednesday. During his daily briefing, Lopez Obrador also said the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery and migration will be key areas of the bilateral relationship with the United States. "Those three themes are verry important: pandemic, economic recovery and migration," he said. Lopez Obrador also said Biden should take steps to settle the immigration status of Mexicans working in the US. 

Pakistan Prime Minster Imran Khan

"I congratulate President @JoeBiden on his inauguration. Look forward to working with @POTUS in building a stronger Pak-US partnership through trade & economic engagement, countering climate change, improving public health, combating corruption & promoting peace in region & beyond."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

In a series of tweets, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his “warmest congratulations” to Biden and Harris.

Pope Francis

The Vatican has published Pope Francis’ message to President Joe Biden following his inauguration, extending "cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office."

“Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding. At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom, together with unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice,” it continues.

The message concludes: “I likewise ask God, the source of all wisdom and truth, to guide your efforts to foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world in order to advance the universal common good. With these sentiments, I willingly invoke upon you and your family and the beloved American people an abundance of blessings.”

5:39 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Watch the US' first-ever youth poet laureate deliver her inauguration poem

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Amanda Gorman, the nation's first-ever youth poet laureate, delivered a poem at President Biden's inauguration on the country's strength.

Gorman was about halfway through writing the poem when she watched in horror the deadly siege on the US Capitol. Typically, it takes Gorman days to craft a new poem. She said she finished this one immediately.

Watch the full poem here:

5:41 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Priest says Biden wanted to attend service to "ground everything that will follow"

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

The Jesuit priest who presided over the private mass on Wednesday ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration told CNN that the President-elect wanted to attend the service “to ground everything that will follow.” 

Father Kevin O’Brien is a friend of the Bidens and has acted as a spiritual adviser to them over the years. He presided over the two private masses ahead of Biden’s first and second inaugurations as vice president in 2009 and 2013. 

O’Brien said he spoke to Biden before and after the mass. He said Biden is “really looking forward to this day,” and said, “I think he just deeply wanted the comfort of the rituals of the mass that he's so familiar with on a day like this. To ground everything that will follow.” 

O’Brien is the president of Santa Clara University in California, and previously ran the campus ministry at Georgetown University. 

He noted that both Republican and Democratic congressional leadership were in attendance Wednesday morning, and said he felt there was a “sense of commonality” at the mass because “we're all people faith.” 

O’Brien said there were about 100 people in attendance, and described the mass as “intimate.” He said the music at the service was some of Biden’s favorites, including music by Irish violinist Patricia Treacy, opera singer Renee Fleming and a gospel choir from a church in Washington, DC. 

He said an important part of the service was remembering the victims of the coronavirus pandemic. He also closed the mass with a special blessing for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, “asking for God's protection and for their health, and for their deep joy in their service.” 

O’Brien said the Bidens “wanted to begin the day in a spirit of prayer and thanksgiving,” and noted they have “grounded different parts of their lives in their faith.” 

“Joe and Jill are friends, and I was happy to offer them the support of our of our faith on a day like this. It's my small way of offering them support, and by offering the encouragement of our faith, which we have in common,” O’Brien said.  

He stressed the significance of Biden becoming only the second Catholic to ever hold the office. 

“Sixty years ago today, John Kennedy went to mass at Holy Trinity Church on the morning of his inauguration,” O’Brien said. “And it's been 60 years since a President-elect has gone to mass to begin the day. And so, 60 years later, here we are.”