White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President Biden has signed 15 executive actions, part of a flurry of steps he plans to take in the coming days to address his top policy priorities — and to roll back some of former President Donald Trump's initiatives.

White House officials had originally told reporters there would be 17 actions signed, focused on addressing the COVID-19 crisis, the economy, racial justice, and climate change.

The signed actions include a mandate for masks on federal property, an action to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, removal of Trump's travel ban affecting Muslim-majority nations, a proclamation halting further funding or construction to the wall along the U.S. Southern border, and order reversing Trump's decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization.

"This will strengthen our own efforts to get the pandemic under control by improving global health," Psaki said during her first White House press briefing Wednesday night.

She added that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, will participate remotely in an executive board meeting of the WHO on Thursday.

On climate change, Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, which has been vehemently opposed by environmentalists for years.

Psaki announced that Biden asked agencies to extend nationwide moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and the Department of Education to extend the pause on student loan payments and interest.

She also announced that the White House has sent an immigration bill to Congress.

White House officials have said the actions signed Wednesday are just the first of many to come over the next several weeks."The president's priority reflected in the bill [is] to responsibly manage the border, keep families together, grow our economy, address the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensure that America can remain a refuge for those fleeing [persecution]," she said.

"No time to start like today," Biden told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon as he signed the first three actions.

"We have a long way to go," he said, adding he'll need to work with Congress on top priorities.

The use of executive actions has become more common in recent presidencies, with major legislation often stalled by congressional gridlock. But the actions can often be fodder for lawsuits and criticism from political opponents — and can be more easily overturned by future administrations.

In her briefing, Psaki told reporters Biden will have his first call with a foreign leader on Friday when he plans to speak with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Top of mind for the Biden administration is advancing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with Congress, something the president has already been discussing with lawmakers.

Psaki said Biden prefers to move forward with a bipartisan bill, noting that could require some changes from the initial package. She did not, however, rule out using the budget reconciliation process to advance the measures.

Below is a partial list of Biden's planned actions:

  • rejoin the World Health Organization
  • ask federal agencies to extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through March 31
  • ask the Education Department to extend the federal student loan payment and interest pause through Sept. 30
  • place a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • begin to reverse more than 100 actions Trump took to roll back environmental regulations
  • rescind Trump's 1776 Commission and revoke Trump's order limiting diversity training
  • stop all wall construction at the Southern border
  • reverse the Trump directive to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census numbers used to reapportion each state's share of congressional seats and Electoral College votes

Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, declaring that "democracy has prevailed" and summoning American resilience and unity to confront the deeply divided nation's historic confluence of crises.

Denouncing a national "uncivil war," Biden took the oath at a U.S. Capitol that had been battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks earlier. Then, taking his place in the White House Oval Office, he plunged into a stack of executive actions that began to undo the heart of his polarizing predecessor's agenda on matters from the deadly pandemic to climate change.

With the COVID-19 pandemic making traditional inaugural balls and celebrations impossible to hold safely, Biden's inaugural committee put together a televised special called "Celebrating America." Hosted by Tom Hanks, it features celebrations of "ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things," as well as celebrity appearances and musical performances.

Bruce Springsteen kicked off the special with a solo acoustic performance of "Land of Hope and Dreams" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Other performers included Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons, The Foo Fighters, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Katie Perry, and more.

President Biden spoke to the American people from the central hall of the Lincoln Memorial and again addressing the rifts that must be united and pain that must be healed as the country moves forward.

"And the question is, are we up to it? Will we meet the moment like our forbearers have?" Biden said. "I believe we must, and I believe we will. You, the American people, are the reason why I've never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day. There isn't anything we can't do it if we do it together."

Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke, this time from the Reflecting Pool, offering her own optimistic vision for the future.

"Even in dark times, we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless, and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration," she said.

The celebration ended with a massive fireworks show over the Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool, and Lincoln Memorial.

At the Capitol, with the American tradition of peaceful transfers of power never appearing more fragile, the quadrennial ceremony unfolded within a circle of security forces evocative of a war zone and devoid of crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, Biden gazed out on a cold Washington morning dotted with snow flurries to see over 200,000 American flags planted on the National Mall to symbolize those who could not attend in person.

"The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We've learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed," Biden declared in his speech. "This is America's day. This is democracy's day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve."

History was made at his side, as Kamala Harris became the first woman to be 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 the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the U.S. government.

Biden never mentioned his predecessor, who defied tradition and left town ahead of the ceremony, but his speech was an implicit rebuke of Donald Trump. The new president denounced "lies told for power and for profit" and was blunt about the challenges ahead.

Joe Biden delivers remarks after he is sworn in as 46th President of the United States.

Central among them: the surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States, as well as economic strains and a national reckoning over race.

"We have much to do in this winter of peril, and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain," Biden said. "Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged, or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now."

Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days including a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief package. It included a blitz of executive orders on matters that don't require congressional approval - a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. On Day One, he signed a series of executive actions, including to re-enter the Paris Climate Accords and to mandate mask wearing on federal property.

"There's no time to start like today," Biden said as he signed the actions in the Oval Office. Then he swore in a group of aides - virtually - telling them, "You're my possibilities."

The absence of Biden's predecessor from the inaugural ceremony underscored the national rift to be healed.

But a bipartisan trio of former presidents - Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama - were there to witness the transfer of power. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, was at his Florida resort by the time the swearing-in took place.

ABC News Special Report: Donald Trump leaves the White House for the final time as president.

Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. Four years after Trump's "American Carnage" speech painted a dark portrait of national decay, Biden warned that the fabric of the nation's democracy was tearing but could be repaired.

"I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart," Biden said. "This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward and we must meet this moment as the United States of America."

Swearing the oath with his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Biden came to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he is the oldest president inaugurated.

Both he, Harris, and their spouses walked the last short part of the route to the White House after an abridged parade. Biden then strode into the Oval Office, a room he knew well as vice president, for the first time as commander in chief.

At the Capitol earlier, Biden, like all those in attendance, wore a face mask except when speaking. And tens of thousands of National Guard troops were on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the building in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden's victory.

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton arrive to the inauguration ceremony.

"Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people," Biden said. "To stop the work of our democracy. To drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever."

The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Franklin Roosevelt's inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

But Washington, all but deserted downtown and in its federal areas, was quiet. And calm also prevailed outside heavily fortified state Capitol buildings across the nation after the FBI had warned of the possibility for armed demonstrations leading up to the inauguration.

The day began with a reach across the political aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. At Biden's invitation, congressional leaders from both parties bowed their heads in prayer in the socially distanced service a few blocks from the White House.

Biden was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court. Vice President Mike Pence, standing in for Trump, sat nearby as Lady Gaga, holding a golden microphone, sang the National Anthem accompanied by the U.S. Marine Corps band.

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor.

When Pence, in a last act of the outgoing administration, left the Capitol, he walked through a door with badly cracked glass from the riot two weeks ago. Later, Biden, Harris, and their spouses were joined by the former presidents to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

In the evening, in lieu of the traditional balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden was to take part in a televised concert that also marked the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

This was not an inauguration for the crowds. But Americans in the capital city nonetheless brought their hopes to the moment.

"I feel so hopeful, so thankful," said Karen Jennings Crooms, a D.C. resident who hoped to catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade on Pennsylvania Avenue with her husband. "It makes us sad that this is where we are but hopeful that democracy will win out in the end. That's what I'm focusing on."

MORE: Trump joins these other presidents who have skipped inaugurations

From Reagan to Trump, here's a look at over 30 years of United States presidential inaugurations.

Trump was the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. After a brief farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews, he boarded Air Force One for the final time as president.

"I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening and I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better," said Trump. He wished the incoming administration well but never mentioned Biden's name.

Trump did adhere to one tradition and left a personal note for Biden in the Oval Office. Biden would only tell reporters that Trump "wrote a very generous letter."

Trump, in his farewell video remarks, hinted at a political return, saying "we will be back in some form." Without question, he will shadow Biden's first days in office.

Trump's second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That will test the ability of the Senate, now coming under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden's Cabinet choices.

The White House, desolate in Trump's waning days, sprang back to life Wednesday afternoon, with Biden staffers moving in and new COVID-19 safety measures, like plastic shields on desks, installed.

 Under a decade ago, Amanda Gorman was still a teenage student in Los Angeles, spending her days devouring the works of Toni Morrison and furiously scribbling in her journals with the dream of one day becoming a writer. After submitting her poems to local competitions, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2014, becoming the first National Youth Poet Laureate three years later. And today, at 22-years-old, Gorman steps up to her biggest career milestone yet: delivering an original poem, titled “The Hill We Climb”. to celebrate the inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States.

How Gorman got here feels more like fate than simple serendipity. A powerful reading of her poem “In This Place: An American Lyric”, delivered at the Library of Congress in 2017, caught the eye of Dr. Jill Biden, who contacted her last month about writing an original poem for her husband’s swearing-in ceremony. What was already a hugely intimidating task – crafting a poem that could both capture and reckon with the stark political division of the current moment – became all the more daunting in the wake of the riots that overtook the US Capitol earlier this month, unfolding just as Gorman was finishing her piece. 

Still, Gorman saw her reading as an opportunity to offer a balm to those suffering right now, in the way that only poetry can. “I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else, but I was called by the Bidens for a reason, and this moment has called me for a reason, so all I can do is show up and do my absolute best,” Gorman says. “That’s all I can ask of myself.”

Part of doing her best meant thinking carefully about what she would wear on the day; namely, a look by Miuccia Prada, a designer Gorman admires for her intellect and long-standing feminist leanings. But an unlikely accessory carries an especially moving backstory. Continuing the legacy of Black women poets like Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander – who spoke at the inaugurations of Bill Clinton in 1993 and Barack Obama in 2009, respectively – Gorman was looking for a way to pay tribute to her predecessors. 

Lo and behold, Oprah Winfrey, a fan of Gorman’s, got in touch. When Angelou spoke in 1993, Winfrey had sent Angelou a Chanel coat and a pair of gloves to wear for the event; to continue the tradition, she sent Gorman a pair of earrings to wear for her own big day. “Every single time I get a text from [Oprah] I fall on the floor,” Gorman says, laughing. It’s the perfect finishing touch to a look that came together with immense care and thought. “[Fashion] has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me.”

On the eve of her inauguration reading, Vogue spoke with Amanda Gorman about her whirlwind journey to one of the most prominent platforms in the world – and with two books in the pipeline for 2021, she’s only just getting started.

I have to start by asking the obvious: How was 2020 for you?

2020 – what a year. It was rough for all of us. As a public poet, people often don’t see the reality of my life. They see maybe a poem or a reciting and it’s great to hear that I can serve as a ray of light in [other people’s] lives. Sometimes it grabs the attention away from the fact that I, too, am going through the same things and navigating darkness, as well. It was a really hard time when my school was shut down when the COVID wave in March crested. I wasn’t going to have a graduation and I wasn’t going to be able to say goodbye to my friends. But I was able to funnel that into a poem. It has been hard on all counts, but I’ve been writing my way through it.

You were named the first US National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017. How have your responsibilities evolved since then, and particularly over the past year?

The climate of not only the pandemic but also racial tension in the United States and political tension has added a new layer of responsibility in my own work. It’s not enough for me, even in my own life, to just write poetry about red wheelbarrows or a tree, though I can, and sometimes I do. I have to interweave my poetry with a purpose. For me, that purpose is to help people and to shed a light on issues that have far too long been in the darkness.

Arguably the two most prominent voices before you to speak at an inauguration ceremony were Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander. How does it feel for you to pick up their torch?

It was such a huge honor. Elizabeth actually called me on the phone and she was so supportive and excited for me to perform, as did Richard Blanco, who also served as an inaugural poet. I’ve been lucky in that the people before me have really done their job in making me feel prepared for this moment. I did study their poems a lot and the history of inaugural poets, from Robert Frost on, to get a sense of what the core elements of an inaugural poem would be – to find something that I might enjoy hearing in my living room.

What do you think you represent as a voice for the Biden/Harris administration?

Before me, the youngest poet to have done it was Richard Blanco, who was 44 at the time. It’s important for the next generation to see. If you look statistically, the people feeling most depressed at this time [are in] my age group. It’s Gen-Zers. To have space in such a public and important event where that youth and that generation can have a voice – I’m just so honored that I get to stand in that role.

Historically, people have seen writing poetry as a solitary occupation. But for poets of your generation, being able to share your poetry in public feels equally important, right?

That was always a difficult question, particularly for me growing up with a speech impediment, which I only overcame a few years ago. The idea that I would have to recite this poem in front of other people was daunting, but also a really powerful and important and beautiful part of it, too. The oration of poetry, I consider being its own art form and tradition. Before you had [written] language systems you had oral language systems, where truths are passed down by word of mouth. 

How are you preparing yourself to stand up and read in front of the tens of millions of people who will inevitably be watching?

I’m almost like, is there preparation for that? For me, it’s getting familiar enough with the poem, but I don’t want to bang it over the head to the point that, when I get on stage, I’m a robot. I still want it to be from the heart, so it’s practising, rehearsing, but also making sure that inside me, it lives there. I try to approach reading in front of millions of people as I would reading in somebody’s living room. I’m trying to make this as special as I can for the American people, given that it’s a virtual reading. I want to challenge myself to imagine that closeness.

I imagine you will want to deliver something that resonates with everyone, although the nation feels so divided right now. How are you negotiating that?

The difficult thing about writing a poem like this is that you want to write it for a country, but you also want it to be accessible. You want it to be representative of all the colors and characters of people who might be watching it. Preparing for that [involved] reading the previous inaugural poems and trying to focus on what they do well. I’ve also looked to Abraham Lincoln or Frederick Douglass, who I love as a writer, or Martin Luther King, and the ways in which they used words to communicate the ideas of the nation in elegant rhetoric that [never] felt as if it was locked away in an ivory tower.

The title of the poem is “The Hill We Climb”. How does that reflect how you set about distilling this messy and turbulent moment in American political history into something poetic?

It was an incredibly daunting poem to write. As I was talking with Elizabeth and Richard, they were very honest in saying, “Look, you’re giving a recital in an inauguration that is unlike any other.” There are all these different kinds of layers of stress that are on the American people right now. It was a hill I had to climb in itself. I wrote it with the idea that this isn’t the moment to say, “Ding-dong the witch is dead,” and dance on the grave of Trump. It’s a real opportunity to unite the people of the United States and focus our gaze on the future, and the ways in which we can collaborate and move forward together. I’m not gonna lie and say that I’m not scared. But I’m gratified in the fact that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but acting despite that fear. There come this knowledge and this faith that I was made for this moment. Not in an egotistical way, not in saying that I’m better than anyone else, but I was called by the Bidens for a reason, and this moment has called me for a reason, so all I can do is show up and do my absolute best. That’s all I can ask of myself.

Not to distract from the weightier significances of the moment for you, but I know you’re wearing Prada. How did you arrive at the look you chose to wear, and what about it felt right for you?

It’s Vogue, so let’s talk fashion [laughs]. I am weaving my own type of symbolism into my outfit, and it’s really special and important to me to deliver these nuggets of information and sentimentality as I’m reciting the poem. Oprah actually got in contact with me, and we’ve been in touch for a while now. Every single time I get a text from her I fall on the floor. She was like, “I’m so excited that you’re doing the poem,” and she’s been really supportive because she knew how nervous I was about going. She said, “I bought the coat and gloves that Maya Angelou wore when she recited her inaugural poem. I’d love to continue the tradition with you and bring something to your outfit.” I was like… [gasps dramatically]. Oprah also bought me some jewellery which you will get to see when I’m performing. One thing I can say is that I’m pretty sure I’ll be wearing a ring that has a caged bird, to symbolize I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I’m also wearing a yellow coat, which is my own nod to Dr Jill Biden, who was the one who recommended me in the first place, and I’m so honored by that. She said, “I saw this video of you and you were wearing yellow and I loved it.” I’m glad we can talk about fashion, because it has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me.

How are you planning to relax and celebrate after the ceremony?

I think I’m going to be on a rollercoaster for a while. I’m in the front seat of a Ferrari right now. But I’m looking forward to absorbing everything that will happen afterward, [and] definitely journaling about it, writing more poetry about it. I’m coming out with a poetry collection later this year, so a lot of this will be processed in that work. My children’s book also comes out in September. It’s called Change Sings. I wanted young readers to have the opportunity to see themselves represented in books as real change-makers, leaders, and people with the potential to make a difference.