After weeks of pro-Trump demonstrations, failed legal battles, a deadly riot at Capitol Hill and a second impeachment, it’s finally happening.
Joe Biden has taken over as the 46th President of the United States.
In the eyes of millions of Americans, the Democrats leader represents a new dawn for America after a whirlwind four years of unpredictable leadership under Donald Trump.
When news of his election was announced, crowds of Americans were seen dancing, crying and singing in the streets, overjoyed that Mr Trump was on the way out.
The celebration continues in Times Square in New York City for Joe Biden winning the 2020 presidential election #newyork #newyorkcity #nyc #election2020 @JoeBiden #bidenharis2020 pic.twitter.com/klffnW2D4w
— Gary Hershorn (@GaryHershorn) November 7, 2020
But Mr Biden has an enormous task ahead of him.
Many Trump supporters still remain convinced the election was stolen despite evidence proving otherwise, and there are questions as to if Mr Biden will ever be able to win these Americans over.
Adding to that tension is the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 401,000 Americans – more than any other population in the world.
The US is deeply divided, and it’s up to Mr Biden to pick up the pieces and stitch it back together.
We don’t have a second to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face as a nation. That’s why after being sworn in tomorrow, I’ll get right to work. https://t.co/QBrS17mle8
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 20, 2021
So, what is he going to do first?
“The first thing we’ll see are a bunch of executive orders that at least symbolically reverse certain things from the Trump administration,” said David Smith, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney’s United States Study Centre.
“Rejoining the Paris climate accord is going to be a big one.”
Mr Biden has vowed that, from his first day in office, the US will return to the Paris Agreement on climate change after Mr Trump’s withdrawal in 2017.
He has also promised to convene, within 100 days, a climate summit featuring leaders of the major global economies, and plans to institute a target for the US to achieve net-zero emissions before 2050.
Abortion ban backflip
Another lesser-known job that features high on Mr Biden’s to-do list will be revoking the Mexico City Rule.
It’s something the Democrats do every time they win an election, and it’s something that Republicans reinstate the minute they get back in power.
The Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, is a Republican-led government policy that denies US funding to human rights organisations all over the world if they use non-US funds to:
- Provide abortion services, counselling or referrals
- Advocate to decriminalise abortion, or
- Expand abortion services.
It blocks critical funding for life-saving services like contraception, maternal health, and HIV prevention and treatment, and ultimately leads to more forced pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
The Biden administration is set to roll out a sweeping overhaul of US immigration laws the day he is inaugurated, including an eight-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
It will also include an expansion for refugee admissions, along with an enforcement plan that deploys technology to patrol the border.
“We’ll at least see symbolic action around immigration that will signal a reversal to Trump’s hardline stance,” Dr Smith told The New Daily.
“With all of these things, they’re symbolic to a certain degree: Rejoining the Paris Accord is different from actually setting the targets, and expressing a desire to develop a path to citizenships for immigrants is very different to actually doing it, which will require legislation.”
Since winning the election in November, Mr Biden has stated again and again that he wants to “unite” Americans and “heal” the nation.
Getting on top of the COVID-19 pandemic is his best shot at achieving that goal, Dr Smith said.
“No matter who we are, the coronavirus is the common enemy,” Dr Smith said.
“This is a way for him to show that he is working for all Americans, so I think he will be very focused on this.”
Mr Biden declared he wants 100 million Americans to receive injections during his first 100 days in office, a drastic increase from the current pace.
“This is going to be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country,” the 78-year-old said on Friday.
“But you have my word: We will manage the hell out of this operation.”
Getting America vaccinated will be one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken. But you have my word that we will manage the hell out of this operation. pic.twitter.com/EtFTz9c3Lf
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 16, 2021
Mr Biden has also unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, aimed at urgently combating the pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused.
The ambitious plan includes $160 billion to ramp up vaccination, testing efforts and other health programs, as well as $350 billion for state and local governments, plus $1 trillion in relief to families, via direct payments and unemployment insurance.
“There’s no time to waste,” Mr Biden said of his plans to tackle the pandemic.
“We have to act and we have to act now.”