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Gov. Kate Brown, Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and more note historic day.

PHOTO - Congressman Cliff Bentz, an Oregon Republican, attended the inauguration ceremony for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The peaceful transition of power was a cause for celebration for elected leaders across Oregon on Wednesday, Jan. 20, as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown highlighted the achievement of Vice President Kamala Harris — the first woman, as well as the first Black and Asian person to achieve the second-highest position of power in U.S. government.

"Our government should be reflective of the people it represents, and now Americans across the country will see themselves in the people holding leadership positions," Gov. Brown said in a statement.

Brown said she hopes Congress will swiftly pass the For The People Act, which would establish Oregon polices like vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration across the nation.

Brown continued: "As we still face what could be the darkest days of the pandemic, President Biden has laid out a strong vision and clear plan, based on science, for how the federal government will help the American people, and governors across the country — starting with the announcement of a much-needed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. I look forward to working with the President, Vice President and Congress on getting this groundbreaking package across the finish line."

Echoing remarks made by President Biden during his speech, Oregon Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley noted the solemn nature of the sparsely-attended and socially-distanced inauguration, due to the 400,000 Americans deaths during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"In the midst of one of the darkest winters in American history, today is cause for celebration and resolve," said Merkley. "Today, our nation begins the hard work of turning the page on a dark chapter marked by racism, division and incivility, as we set out to write a new one of hope, freedom and equality for all."

Sen. Ron Wyden praised the oratory of the nation's youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, before adding, "Today our country starts a new chapter to build back better, for everyone. The road ahead won't be easy, but democracy is worth the effort. Let's get to work."

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan toasted the "peaceful transfer of leadership," which followed on the heels of a riotous assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a failed attempt to prevent Congress from formally certifying Biden's electoral victory.

"We have an opportunity to restore faith in democratic institutions and overcome the divisiveness that has engulfed our nation in modern times," said Fagan.

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said she shared a number of priorities with the incoming administration, including returning the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement, securing a path to citizenship for Dreamers and other immigrants fleeing violence, making infrastructure investments, providing debt relief to student loan borrowers, extending the federal eviction moratorium and resuming the ban on federal executions.

"Today's inauguration was a hopeful yet solemn occasion, displaying our nation's resilience and commitment to democracy only two weeks after a violent attack on our Capitol," said Rep. Bonamici. "President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are the compassionate, qualified leaders we need as multiple crises — the COVID-19 crisis, the economic crisis, the climate crisis and the racial justice crisis — continue to grip our country."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also marked the inauguration at the start of the day's City Council session.

"I was struck with an overwhelming sense of optimism, and of hope," Wheeler said. "Today is a new day for our country, and it's full of promise and potential."

"Thinking about how much RBG would have enjoyed this moment," wrote U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer on social media, referring to the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Congressman Cliff Bentz, the sole Republican member of Oregon's delegation to Capitol Hill, said he attended the ceremony, calling it "an honor."

Zane Sparling
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