January 22, 2021
On January 20, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office as president and vice president to lead a country in the midst of several crises—a deadly pandemic, millions out of work, deep political polarization, a deteriorating global climate, and a recent attack on the U.S. Capitol. These challenges were evident in an inauguration ceremony with few guests, several thousand American troops providing security, and one day after the United States surpassed 400,000 deaths from COVID-19. In his first speech as commander in chief, President Biden addressed these challenges, calling for unity and a defense of truth.
Below, Brookings scholars reflect on the transition of power and President Biden’s remarks. To read policy ideas for the new administration and 117th Congress, visit Brookings’s Transition 2021 page.