Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.
Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- in as a U.S. senator.
Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.
Shortly before Biden took the office of office, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the nation’s first female vice president.
The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and becomes the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.
She was sworn in Wednesday by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. Vice President Mike Pence, standing in for President Donald Trump, was sitting nearby as Lady Gaga sang the national anthem accompanied by the U.S. Marine Corps band.
The ceremony in which presidential power is transferred is a hallowed American democratic tradition. And this time it serves as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces. It’s devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Flouting tradition, Trump departed Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol.
Former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are attending.
The other living former president, 96-year-old Jimmy Carter, previously announced he would not attend.