Scott Detrow

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

President Biden and Vice President Harris acknowledged a grim milestone Monday: the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans from COVID-19.

Biden and Harris, along with first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, emerged from the White House at sundown. They stood at the foot of the South Portico, covered in 500 candles honoring the dead, and listened to a Marine Corps band play "Amazing Grace" as they held a moment of silence.

A constant theme of President Biden's campaign for the White House was his sharp criticism of the irreparable damage to U.S. alliances, reputation and security that he argued came from the policy and actions of the Trump administration.

So it was perhaps a bit surprising to hear Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, praise several aspects of former President Donald Trump's international agenda during a joint appearance with Robert O'Brien, Sullivan's predecessor at the helm of the White House National Security Council.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden has signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The much-anticipated move is one of several executive actions the president took on Wednesday to address the worsening climate crisis and the broader decline of the natural world, but it won't come without pushback.

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Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

President Biden on Monday repealed a controversial Trump-era ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

Biden signed an executive order on the issue as he met in the Oval Office with new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Vice President Harris.

Speaking briefly to reporters, Biden said the order will allow all "qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform."

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President-elect Joe Biden teared up twice Tuesday afternoon as he said goodbye to his adopted home state of Delaware and prepared to fly to Washington, D.C., to assume the presidency.

Paraphrasing, as he often does, Irish literature, Biden paused for several moments as he told a small, socially distanced crowd at a National Guard center named after his son Beau that "when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart."

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will step down from her California Senate seat Monday before taking up a more high-profile position in the chamber two days later, transition officials have announced.

For more than a year and a half, President-elect Joe Biden campaigned promising to undo several Trump administration policies on Day 1 of his presidency, and now his team is filling in the details of that and more as he prepares to take office.

Biden's incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, on Saturday laid out in a memo the executive orders the new president will issue on Jan. 20 and in the early days of the new administration.

On Wednesday, Kamala Harris will become the first woman, and the first woman of color, to serve as vice president of the United States.

Twelve years ago, hundreds of thousands of people filled the National Mall to watch Barack Obama make history as the nation's first Black president.

But when Harris takes the oath, the mall will very likely be nearly empty.

"We've reached a point where foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy," incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NPR over Zoom on Tuesday. "And the work that we do abroad fundamentally has to connect to making the lives of working people better, safer, fairer."

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Updated at 7:45 a.m. ET

The fate of the Biden administration's ambitious climate goals — plans that, if fully implemented, would overhaul the United States' energy economy in the span of just 15 years — will largely rest in the hands of two longtime government officials who have obsessed on the topic for decades.

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