US President Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term in office surrounded by close friends and advisers in a small ceremony at the White House on Sunday.
Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath at 11:55 a.m., with the president using first lady Michelle Obama’s family bible. January 22 is the constitutionally required date for the US president to assume office. Because the date fell on a Sunday, Obama will repeat the ritual tomorrow and deliver his inaugural address at the US Capitol before a crowd of thousands gathered on the National Mall.
Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in earlier Sunday at a similar ceremony at the vice presidential residence by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the first Hispanic on the court and the first to administer the oath.
Obama, 51, the United States's first black president, has presided over an economy that is still recovering from the worst recession in a generation. While the world’s largest economy grew at a 3.1 percent rate in the third quarter, this year will bring growth of just 2 percent, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Over the next two months his administration will engage in a fiscal debate with Republican lawmakers who hold the majority in the US House over raising the government’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit, steps to shrink the deficit and funding federal operations.
As part of today’s ceremonies, the president and Biden laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Obama and his family also attended services at historic Metropolitan African Methodist Church in Washington.
Tomorrow’s inauguration ceremony coincides with the federal holiday marking the birth of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Roberts will again administer the oath while using King’s traveling bible and US President Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural bible, the same one Obama used for his swearing in four years ago.
Obama kicked off four days of events tied to the inaugural yesterday by volunteering with his wife and daughters on a renovation project at a Washington elementary school. As he did four years ago, Obama called for a National Day of Service on the eve of his inauguration, saying volunteerism represents the democratic ideals upon which the country was founded.
“This is really what America’s about, this is what we celebrate,” Obama said to volunteers, after helping paint a bookshelf at the school in Northeast Washington.