20 January 2009
– Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the US, with Joe Biden as his vice president. Both Chief Justice John G Roberts and Obama fluff the oath. More than one million people attend the inauguration on Capitol Hill and the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
– Hours after taking office, Obama requests a temporary halt to Guantánamo Bay trials.
– The new president attends a service at the National Cathedral in Washington, the first engagement on his first full day in office.
– Inspired by “an abundance of caution” Obama retakes the oath a day after stumbling on it.
– Hillary Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state.
– Obama suspends all military commissions for 120 days.
– Obama signs an executive order on ethics, heralding a stringent new code of practice on lobbying and government appointments.
– The president brings in executive orders aimed at reforming the US’s detention policy. He orders the closure of “black sites”, where CIA and European security services have interrogated terrorist suspects. He also orders interrogations of detainees across the entire US intelligence community to adhere to the US Army Field Manual and orders the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison within 12 months.
– Obama orders the end of the “Mexico City Rule” which had banned federal funding of NGOs that performed abortions or offered abortion counselling. It is strongly criticised by the Vatican.
– The new president’s first Saturday address to the nation. He focused on the current economic situation, and said he hoped to bring his economic recovery plan in within a month. Read his economic agenda here.
– Obama outlines his energy policy, saying America must become more self-sufficient and calling for an “energy economy” to create jobs. He said the US should not be a “hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes, and a warming planet”. See the full proposal here.
– In his first TV interview, to the al-Arabiya network, Obama spoke of improved relations with the Middle East. On Israel, he reiterated US support but said: “I do believe the moment is ripe for both sides to realise that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table.” His envoy, George Mitchell, is preparing to visit the area.
– Obama signs his first bill into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The law ends a 2007 Supreme Court decision that said workers had only 180 days to file a pay discrimination lawsuit.
– The Senate votes to remove Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich from office. He is accused of trying to sell Obama’s old seat in the Senate.
– Obama signs a memorandum promising $20m in aid to Gaza.
– The last terror trial at Guantánamo Bay is halted after the judge dropped charges against a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
– Obama holds his first press conference at the White House.
– In Denver, Colorado, Obama signs into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aimed at rescuing the economy. A website, Recovery.gov, has been set up so taxpayers can track the programme’s spending in their area.
– Obama approves the sending of 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
– Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress. In it he acknowledges the severity of the economic crisis America is facing, but offers a promise of hope, saying: “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”
– Obama submits to Congress a 140-page summary of his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. The budget restates his commitment to halve the federal deficit, and commits $630bn over the next 10 years to the reform of the health care system.