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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9:01 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden says unity "requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans"

President Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden. Source: Pool

President Joe Biden reiterated his call for unity tonight during his speech at the primetime inauguration special “Celebrating America."

"It is humbling to stand here in this place in front of these sacred words. Humbling out of respect to President Lincoln and the office we now share and humbling because of you, the American people. As I said earlier today, we have learned again that democracy is precious and because of you democracy has prevailed," Biden said in remarks at the Lincoln Memorial tonight.

Biden added: "That's why Jill and I, Kamala and Doug, wanted to make sure our inauguration was not about us but about you, the American people. This is a great nation. We're a good people and [to] overcome the challenges in front of us requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy — unity. It requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans."

9:06 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Brayden Harrington recites passage from JFK's inaugural address

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

In this screengrab, Brayden Harrington speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, Brayden Harrington speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old who bonded with President Joe Biden over their shared experience with stuttering, made an appearance during the inauguration special “Celebrating America."

Harrington recited a passage from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address.

"In the long history of the world only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger, I do not shrink from that responsibility. I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us will exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country," Harrington recited.

Harrington also spoke during last year's Democratic National Convention and shared his story about how Biden inspired him.

8:41 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Inauguration Day is about "witnessing the permanence of our American ideal," Tom Hanks says

Tom Hanks hosts the Celebrate America concert spcial at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Wednesday, January 20.
Tom Hanks hosts the Celebrate America concert spcial at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Wednesday, January 20. Source: Pool

Following a performance by Bruce Springsteen, actor Tom Hanks opened the primetime inauguration special “Celebrating America" with words of hope for a new day in the US following the ascendance of President Joe Biden.

"The last few weeks, in the last few years, we've witnessed deep divisions and a troubling ranker in our land but tonight, we ponder the United States of America," Hanks said. "The practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hope and dreams we all share for a more perfect union."

Hanks added: "To some, a presidential inauguration is a tradition, an act that marks the commitment of a new four-year term. Yet, in truth, Inauguration Day is more than the swearing in of the next national leaders. This day is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal."

8:32 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Jill Biden shares video of White House arrival in first tweet as first lady

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

Dr. Jill Biden sent her first tweet as first lady, tweeting a clip of her and President Joe Biden arriving at the North Portico of the White House after today’s inaugural parade.

“Thank you for your faith in something that is bigger than all of us: that we will build a better world because we’re going to do it together,” she tweeted.

8:36 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Happening now: Inaugural concert and celebration at the Lincoln Memorial 

Bruce Springsteen performs at the Celebrating America concert special at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Bruce Springsteen performs at the Celebrating America concert special at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Source: Pool

President Biden's primetime inauguration special “Celebrating America" has started at the Lincoln Memorial.

The 90-minute program will feature remarks from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Bruce Springsteen opened the event, performing his song "Land of Hope and Dreams."

The special, hosted by Tom Hanks, will also feature performances from Jon Bon Jovi, who campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania, John Legend, the Foo Fighters, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons. 

Later in the evening, Biden and Jill Biden will appear on the Blue Room balcony at the White House.

8:33 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden administration starts draw down of controversial "remain in Mexico" program

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

Migrants arrested at the US-Mexico border will no longer be enrolled in a program requiring they remain in Mexico as their immigration hearings play out in the US, the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday, reversing another controversial Trump administration immigration policy.

The so-called "Remain in Mexico" program has forced thousands of people to wait in makeshift camps at the border, often in deplorable conditions. 

While the latest announcement marks a significant change, migrants apprehended at the southern border have largely been turned away under a public health order related to the coronavirus pandemic. DHS said Wednesday Covid-19 related border restrictions remain in place. 

President Joe Biden condemned the “remain in Mexico” policy during his campaign and is quickly moving to bring it to halt. 

“Today, DHS is announcing the suspension of new enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program,” the department’s statement reads. “Effective tomorrow, January 21, the Department will cease adding individuals into the program.

The change in policy doesn’t affect people currently in the program. “All current MPP participants should remain where they are, pending further official information from U.S. government officials,” the statement continues.

8:21 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Infectious Diseases Society of America endorses Biden's mask order

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

Infectious diseases specialists endorsed President Joe Biden’s very first executive order requiring face masks on federal property and other areas of federal authority, saying masks are “crucial” to controlling the coronavirus pandemic.

"The president’s order comes at a critical point, when vaccines, as well as a plan to accelerate their rollout, offer new hope, but also when more easily transmitted variants of the virus present new challenges," the Infectious Diseases Society of America said in a statement Wednesday. "We urge governors, mayors, policymakers and residents of communities across the nation to unite behind this action and to require, support and practice mask wearing to control the spread of the virus."

Biden’s team is hoping state and local leaders will follow suit.

The group added: "Today, universal use of face masks that cover the mouth and nose remains a crucial component of measures to control the pandemic at home and around the world. Multi-layered and snug-fitting masks are most effective.”

8:18 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Rev. William Barber to deliver message of "revival" and "renewal" at inaugural prayer service 

From CNN's Leinz Vales

CNN’s Erin Burnett and Rev. William Barber.
CNN’s Erin Burnett and Rev. William Barber. Source: CNN

Rev. William Barber, a North Carolina minister and anti-poverty activist, said Wednesday that his homily at the official inaugural prayer service at Washington National Cathedral will be about “revival and renewal.”

“What I want to suggest tomorrow is what a day it would be if we come out of this greed with more grace,” Barber said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. “What a day it would be. We come out of all this hate and lies with more love and truth. What if we come out and we pass a full Covid relief and what with lift 140 million poor and low-wealth before Covid and millions after out of poverty and low-wealth. What if we raised the minimum wage? What if we renew the Voting Rights Act?"

"This could be an opportunity where the pain we have seen is not the pains of the death of democracy, but the pains of the birth of a third reconstruction," he added.

Service details: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Prayer Service for the 59th Presidential Inaugural will be virtual on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

8:08 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Harris won't move in vice president residence yet 

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Vice President Kamala Harris won't be moving into the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory immediately, according to a Harris aide.

She won’t move in just yet to account for the need for some repairs to the home "that are more easily conducted with the home unoccupied."

A move-in date is still to be determined. 

CBS News was first to report on the residence.