June 19, 2021

Joe Biden kicks off presidency with executive orders to reverse Trump’s policies – live

Bernie Sanders wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian today: “Democrats, who will now control the White House, the Senate, and the House, must summon the courage to demonstrate to the American people that government can effectively and rapidly respond to their pain and anxiety.”

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As Democrats take control of the Senate, Bernie Sanders has taken on his new role as chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee.

At the helm of the Budget Committee, Sanders will be in charge of the reconciliation process, which allows Congress to move through legislation without the 60-vote supermajority needed to overcome filibuster. Reconciliation can be used to move through key coronavirus relief measures, including stimulus payments.

Sanders has said that he’d love for a bipartisan effort on coronavirus relief, but he won’t let a desire for bipartisanship delay action.

“We should hear what my Republican colleagues have to say, but we are not going to spend months and months and not address the incredible pain millions of families are experiencing,” Sanders said.

The president’s executive actions aim to reverse a long list of Trump policies. “There’s no time to start like today,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.”

Biden halted the US’s exit from the World Health Organization, installed a coronavirus response coordinator to oversee the distribution of vaccines, and extended a moratorium on evictions amid the coronavirus crisis.

Turning toward immigration policy, he reversed a Trump travel ban aimed at Muslim-majority countries, and stopped funding for the construction of Trump’s border wall.

Reversing Trump’s legacy, Joe Biden signed orders rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, mandating masks on federal property, among others.

The first order he signed was a mask mandate on federal property, where he has jurisdiction. In all, Biden signaled he would sign 17 executive orders today.

“The president wrote a very generous letter,” Biden said, of Donald Trump. “Because it was private, I won’t talk about it until I talk to him. But it was generous.”

Chuck Schumer of New York spoke on the Senate floor, as majority leader.

“This will be an exceptionally busy and consequential period for the US Senate. There is much to do,” Schumer said. “We are ready to get to work.”

With their razor-thin majority, Democrats in the Senate will have to balance the impeachment trial of Donald Trump with an urgent need to push through coronavirus relief.

To pass major legislation, a bipartisan, 60-vote supermajority will be required – but there’s a lot the Democrats can do with 51 votes, through a process called budget reconciliation.

That’s it from me on this historic day. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

Maanvi will have more updates and analysis coming up, so stay tuned.

Kamala Harris has just sworn in three new Democratic senators — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California.

Warnock and Ossoff won their Senate runoff races earlier this month, and Padilla was appointed to serve out the remainder of Harris’ term.

The Senate is now officially split evenly, 50-50, between Democrats and Republicans. With Harris serving as a tie-breaking 51st vote, Democrats take the Senate majority.

Harris received a standing ovation from her former Senate colleagues as she took her seat to preside over the chamber for the first time as vice-president.

Kamala Harris has arrived at the Capitol to swear in three new Democratic senators, giving her party control of the chamber.

The Senate is now in session, and Kamala Harris will soon swear in three new Democratic senators — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California.

Warnock and Ossoff run their Senate runoff races earlier this month, and Padilla was appointed to serve out the remainder of Harris’ term.

After the three senators are sworn in, the Senate will be evenly split, 50-50, between Democrats and Republicans. With Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote, Democrats will take control of the chamber.

Amazon has published an open letter to Joe Biden, hours into his presidency, offering to help with efforts to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine.

“We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” wrote Dave Clark, the head of Amazon’s consumer business.

“Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against Covid-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.”

In the letter, Clark said that Amazon has an agreement with a “licensed third-party occupational health care provider” to administer vaccines to its employees, including warehouse employees, some who have died from Covid-19.

It is unclear whether Amazon had extended this offer to the Trump administration or if it has already been in talks with Biden’s team. The company had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to give priority access to the vaccination for its front-line workers.

While the agency has not singled Amazon out for priority, it has deemed essential workers not in healthcare as priority recipients in “Phase 1c” of vaccine distribution, which follows the vaccination of healthcare workers and people over 75.

Disillusionment has come upon some believers of QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that a cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats, celebrities and billionaires run the world while overseeing a pedophilic human trafficking scheme, as Joe Biden officially become president of the United States Wednesday afternoon.

QAnon supporters believed that Wednesday’s inauguration ceremonies would bring a type of doomsday that would ultimately end with top Democrats being arrested and Donald Trump starting a second term.

But things went peacefully. No Democrats were arrested. Trump, now a former president, is in Palm Beach.

Screenshots of confused and disappointed QAnon supporters on online forums were shared on Twitter. One QAnon believer posted a comment titled “Anyone else feeling beyond let down now?” with a description that said: “It’s like being a kid and seeing the big gift under the tree thinking it is exactly what you want only to open it and realize it was a lump of coal the whole time.”

Others said they felt sick and “sad and confused” as inauguration continued smoothly.

To make things harder for believers, Ron Watkins, who moderated QAnon base 8kun, posted a message essentially telling supporters to go back to their regular lives.

“We have a new president sworn in and it is our responsibility as citizens to respect the Constitution,” Watkins wrote. “As we enter the new administration please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years.”

Some people pointed out that QAnon has created real rifts between families and friends that will not be easily repaired even as their theories are debunked.

Kamala Harris walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where her office is.

The new vice-president walked down the street while holding hands with her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

When a reporter shouted at Harris asking how today feels, the vice-president responded she was just “walking to work”.

Harris will soon swear in three Democratic senators — Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff and Alex Padilla — giving her party control of the chamber.

Joe Biden made a couple stops as he walked toward the White House along the inaugural parade route.

The president stopped to share a fist-bump with Al Roker. When the legendary weatherman asked Biden how today feels, the president responded, “Feels great.”

The president also stopped to take a question from NBC News reporter Mike Memoli, who has covered Biden since 2007.

Memoli asked Biden what this moments means for him, as it comes more than three decades after he first ran for president. Biden replied, “It feels like I’m going home.”

Joe Biden has arrived at the White House for the first time as president. The new commander-in-chief walked onto the White House grounds, after getting out of his limo to walk the last few blocks to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The new president is expected to sign a series of executive orders later this evening as some of his first matters of business after taking the oath of office this afternoon.

A spokesperson for Donald Trump confirmed earlier today that he left Biden a note in the Oval Office, as outgoing presidents traditionally do for their successors.

Joe Biden made some detours as he walked along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

At one point, the new president ran ahead to give Al Roker, America’s favorite weatherman, a fist bump.

Biden also stopped to say hello to Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, DC.

Joe Biden has exited his limo to walk along some of the inaugural parade route with his wife, Dr Jill Biden, and their family.

It was unclear whether the new president would walk along Pennsylvania Avenue, due to concerns about security and coronavirus.

The Bidens are making their way to the White House, which will serve as their home for the next four years.

Vice-president Kamala Harris was escorted to the White House by the Howard University marching band.

Harris is an alumna of Howard, making her the first graduate of a historically black university to become vice-president.

A small inaugural parade, led by the US Army band and a joint service honor guard, is now escorting Joe Biden to the White House.

Presidential inaugurations usually include massive parades and balls to celebrate the incoming administration, but such events were obviously deemed impossible amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The parade unfolded as the presidential motorcade drove Biden from 15th Street to the White House, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bernie Sanders explained to CBS News why he chose to wear a rather understated khaki coat and mittens to Joe Biden’s inauguration this morning.

“You know, in Vermont, we know something about the cold,” the senator said. “We’re not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm.”

Sanders’ outfit delighted many inauguration viewers, and Twitter users jumped to photoshop the former presidential candidate into various absurd locations.