By: John Fritze, USAToday.
Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, marking the official start to an administration that must now turn its attention to the global coronavirus pandemic, economic turmoil and deep divisions about the state of American politics and leadership.
Forty-eight years after he entered Congress as the junior senator from Delaware, Biden stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and recited the oath of office enshrined in the Constitution – words that have been spoken by his predecessors, dating back to President George Washington.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office.
Facing a raging pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, the inaugural festivities were stripped of much of their pomp and circumstance, but the symbolism of the peaceful transfer of power – a bedrock principle of American democracy – was nevertheless clear. Lawmakers and former presidents of both parties and members of the Supreme Court, wearing masks as they took their seats, were on hand to witness the ceremony.
Biden, 78, takes the helm at a precarious moment in U.S. history, as the nation continues its struggle with the deadly virus and the logistical challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of people. He also enters office just days after a mob supporting former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, underscoring simmering tensions in national politics that Biden must confront to advance his agenda.