January 7, 2021

Tempers flared on the House floor early Thursday during speeches for and against an objection to recognizing President-elect Joe Biden's electoral win in Pennsylvania — the final hurdle in the counting of Electoral College votes, delayed by the occupation of the Capitol on Wednesday by a mob supporting President Trump. Rep. Conor Lamb, a moderate Democrat from Pennsylvania, lit into his Republican colleagues, telling them their objections have no merit and "don't deserve an ounce of respect. A woman died out there tonight, and you're making these objections."

There was a commotion from the GOP side after Lamb said the people storming the Capitol would have been arrested if they weren't white, prompting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-N.Y.) to call for order. "Enough has been done today already to try to strip this Congress of its dignity, and we don't need to do any more," Lamb said, adding that some of his colleagues had fueled the mob by repeating lies about the election. A few moments later, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) objected, saying Lamb was calling him a liar. Pelosi shot down the objection, and then things nearly came to blows.

The benches cleared, and the deputy sergeant at arms got involved. PBS's Lisa Desjardins explains what happened off-camera:

"We want this government to work more than they want it to fail," Lamb said after the fight was defused, then ceded the floor. Peter Weber

5:43 p.m.

A Delaware News Journal reporter captured a powerful, private moment on Wednesday as Joe Biden gave his first address as president of the United States. "Poignant moment," the reporter, Patricia Talorico, captioned the photo, which swiftly went viral. "While Joe Biden gave his inauguration speech, a lone man in a uniform knelt at the Delaware grave of his son Beau."

As Talorico explained in a subsequent article, "Delaware is a tiny state." She described how back in 2002, when she was struggling with an assignment from her editor, Beau Biden approached her to ask if she was okay while she sat alone on a bench at an elementary school in Wilmington. "He wasn't in office at the time," she wrote. "He was just being kind. It wasn't a grand gesture, just a small one, but somehow, it made a difference that day. I never forgot that act of kindness."

On Wednesday, Beau — who died of a brain tumor in 2015 at the age of 46 — was on Talorico's mind, and she decided to drive by his grave to say "a short prayer" when she saw "a lone man in a blue uniform kneeling at Beau's grave. No one else was around … In my car, I had the radio tuned to CNN. Joe Biden was being sworn in as president and was about to begin his address."

As Talorico writes, "The journalist in me wanted to go back and find out [the man's] identity and ask why he was there. The person who once received a kind gesture from Beau when I needed it most knew it was a time to be respectful, and I drove away." Read her full story at Delaware News Journal. Jeva Lange

5:41 p.m.

President Biden has entered the Oval Office — and has immediately started undoing former President Donald Trump's legacy.

After his inauguration Wednesday, Biden made his way into the White House for the first time as president, and found what he called a "very generous letter" Trump had left there for him. And after sitting down at the Resolute Desk, Biden signed a wave of executive orders overturning Trump's policies and installing others the former president would've opposed.

For starters, Biden instituted a mask mandate on all federal property across the U.S. Biden can't force Americans to wear masks everywhere — that's up to governors — but he does have jurisdiction over any federal government-owned property. He also stopped Trump's planned withdrawal from the World Health Organization, which Trump criticized for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and started the process of putting the federal government in charge of vaccine and testing coordination.

The U.S. had also just withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord after Trump moved to step away from it years ago. But Biden's executive order signed Wednesday put the U.S. on track to rejoining it. Another order also temporarily banned oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and halted construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

After four years of Trump's hardline immigration policies, and seemingly in an attempt to counter the Obama administration's immigration legacy, Biden quickly took action on immigration as well. He signed orders reversing Trump's Muslim travel ban and stopping construction of the southern border wall, and plans to bring a massive immigration reform bill to Congress on Wednesday. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:20 p.m.

The Democratic Party gained a slim majority in the Senate on Wednesday, when Vice President Kamala Harris — who just a few hours earlier took her own oath of office — swore Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and her successor Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) into the upper chamber.

The Senate now has a 50-50 party split, though Harris would serve as the tie-breaker in simple majority votes, which means the Democrats hold the edge.

With the addition of three new Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has taken on the role of majority leader, while Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is once again the minority leader, a post he held between 2007 and 2015. Tim O'Donnell

4:59 p.m.

Liberal Fox News contributor Richard Fowler choked up during an appearance on the network as he marveled at the numerous glass ceilings broken by Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

"One part [of the inauguration] that caused me to get real emotional was, we've been a country for 243 years, and in all those 243 years, we have had women citizens but we have never had a woman hold national office," Fowler said, his voice breaking as he went on. "So to see Kamala Harris put her hand on the Bible today — also being her and I are of Jamaican descent, and I just think about my grandmother and my mom and so many other women who saw this, and so many young girls who can finally believe that they can be president, too, because of what we did as a country back in November."

Fowler was not the only contributor on Fox News on Wednesday to be audibly moved by the significance of Harris' oath. Political analyst Juan Williams also emotionally explained, "It's visceral, and I'll tell you why. I have granddaughters, I'm the son of a Black mother — you think about American history, you think about the status of Black women in this country for most of our history. And the idea that a Black woman would assume such power in this moment as a national leader — truly inspiring." Jeva Lange

4:48 p.m.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office Wednesday, marking the end of former President Donald Trump's term. After the inauguration ceremony, Biden and Harris embarked on a short parade around the Capitol Hill area that ended at the White House. That's where Biden and his family got to step inside for the first time since Biden was vice president four years ago.

Shortly after Biden's arrival, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff made it to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The vice president has a set of offices in the building next to the White House, but lives in a house on the grounds of the Naval Observatory about two miles northwest.

The White House got a thorough cleaning after the Trump administration departed Wednesday morning. Biden administration members will be required to wear masks once they start working, unlike Trump's staff. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:40 p.m.

President Biden's team is reportedly worried the COVID-19 pandemic they're inheriting will be even more difficult to handle than they anticipated, and some advisers say a new, more contagious variant of the virus — as opposed to vaccine distribution logistics — is the main reason why, Bloomberg reports.

Biden has promised to work to curb the virus' spread with a push to inoculate 100 million Americans in 100 days. He plans to encourage widespread mask usage, increase testing, and safely reopen schools. But the fear is that the new variant, which was initially discovered in the United Kingdom, but has made its way to the U.S. and elsewhere, will upend the entire plan and subsequently damage his prospects of achieving other legislative priorities like immigration reform and infrastructure development, Bloomberg notes.

While the mutation is seemingly at the center of the apprehension, Biden's aides also reportedly blame their predecessors for putting them in a bad spot. Some aides, per Bloomberg, privately allege the Trump administration "dragged its heels in showing them details of the federal response and its data." Ultimately, they reportedly opted against making those concerns public because they wanted to avoid publicly criticizing the Trump administration during the transition, potentially motivating them to cut them out of the loop completely.

A former senior Trump official told Bloomberg that description of the situation was just the Biden team's way of lowering expectations, adding that they were given unprecedented access to pandemic-related information. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

4:24 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush described House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) as "the savior" for helping President Biden make his way to the Oval Office, according to Clyburn himself.

The South Carolina Democrat revealed Wednesday he spoke with Bush ahead of the inauguration ceremony and that the former president called him the "savior" because of his key endorsement of Biden's campaign, The Associated Press reports.

"George Bush said to me today, he said, 'You know, you're the savior," Clyburn explained. "Because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today.'"

Clyburn backed Biden prior to the 2020 South Carolina Democratic primary, which Biden went on to win in what was widely seen as the major turning point in his presidential campaign; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) subsequently dropped out of the race and endorsed him.

Bush, according to Clyburn, also described Biden as "the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president." Brendan Morrow

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