Washington, January 22
With President Joe Biden signing nearly two dozen executive actions, fulfilling major campaign promises and addressing the challenges of race, health and economy head-on, Vice President Kamala Harris has said the new administration has “hit the ground running”.
On day one in the office on Wednesday, Biden signed 15 executive orders and two other directives, reversing some of the key foreign policies and national security decisions of his predecessor Donald Trump. The orders, the White House said, are aimed at addressing the major problems being faced by the country.
The executive orders ranged from rejoining the Paris agreement on climate change, halting America’s withdrawal from the World Health Organisation, revoking Muslim travel ban and stopping immediate construction of Mexico border wall.
“We have hit the ground running,” Harris, 56, said on Thursday, a day after the historic inauguration wherein Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States and she became the first-ever woman vice president of the country. Harris is the 49th Vice President of the US.
Harris, who is also the first-ever black American and Indian-origin person to occupy the position, had a busy first working day.
In the morning, she and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff joined Biden and First Lady Jill Biden to watch the virtual presidential inaugural prayer service hosted by the Washington National Cathedral.
Thereafter she joined Biden in receiving the daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office of the White House. In the afternoon, Harris joins the president for his remarks on the administration’s COVID-19 response. She was standing by his side, as he signed a series of executive orders and other presidential actions responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Soon thereafter, Harris joined the president in a briefing from members of their COVID-19 team on the coronavirus response and the state of vaccinations.
In between her busy schedule, Harris administered the oath of secrecy to Avril Haines, America’s first woman spy chief.
“Earlier today, I swore in our first Cabinet member, Avril Haines, after her confirmation by the Senate last night. As the Director of National Intelligence, Director Haines will be dedicated to keeping the American people safe,” Harris said in a tweet.
In her capacity as DNI, 51-year-old Haines would oversee as many as 18 American intelligence agencies, including CIA and FBI.
Meanwhile, Emhoff posted a picture of him and Harris walking towards the Oval Office. “Honoured and ready to get to work. It was a great first day,” the Second Gentleman tweeted.
On Friday, Harris will join Biden in attending the daily briefing, after which the two leaders would have lunch together in the private dining room, the White House said.
Harris will receive a briefing with the president on the state of the economic recovery in the state dining room. Then she will join Biden for his remarks on the administration’s response to the economic crisis. The president will also sign executive orders in issues related to the economy.
In the evening, Harris will hold a virtual meeting with National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and small business owners affected by COVID-19 to discuss the Biden-Harris administration’s plan to address the ongoing economic crisis.
“Kamala Harris is now the 49th Vice President of the United States. But, of course, in more ways than one, she is not the 49th but the first. The first African American woman, the first Asian American woman, The first woman, to hold the office of the vice presidency in our nation’s history,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the inauguration was a breath of fresh air for the country.
“The inauguration of Joe Biden as president, Kamala Harris as vice president of the United States, with all of the newness that that presented, first woman, first African-American woman, first Asian-American woman, the best. Not just about demography, but about the quality of leadership. So exciting,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol Hill. —PTI