Eds: UPDATES: With Pelosi quotes, prospects uncertain for new COVID bill this year. Updates photo links.; Links video. With AP Photos.; AP Video.
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is calling on Congress to enact billions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 assistance before the year’s end, according to a senior aide who warned Friday that “there’s no more room for delay.”
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Biden transition aide Jen Psaki delivered the remarks ahead of Biden’s first in-person meeting since winning the election with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. The incoming Democratic president will host the top Democrats in the House and Senate Friday afternoon at his makeshift transition headquarters in a downtown Wilmington, Delaware, theater.
Pelosi told a news conference Friday that she and Schumer would be talking with Biden about “the urgency of crushing of virus,” including the lame-duck session of Congress, legislation on funding the government and COVID relief.
But prospects for new virus aid this year remain uncertain. Pelosi said talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP leadership on Thursday did not produce any consensus on a new virus aid package.
“That didn’t happen, but hopefully it will,” she said.
Biden’s new governing team is facing intense pressure to approve another COVID-19 relief bill, come up with a clear plan to distribute millions of doses of a prospective vaccine, and Biden is just days away from unveiling the first of his Cabinet picks, which are subject to Senate confirmation.
Psaki said that Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are already working “in lockstep” to push for an pandemic relief bill before Congress adjourns for the year, a period known as a lame-duck session.
“They’re in lockstep agreement that there needs to be emergency assistance and aid during the lame-duck session to help families, to help small businesses,” Psaki said. “There’s no more room for delay and we need to move forward as quickly as possible.”
The president-elect has also promised to work closely with Republicans in Congress to execute his governing agenda, but so far, he has focused his congressional outreach on his leading Democratic allies.
The meeting comes two days after House Democrats nominated Pelosi to be the speaker who guides them again next year as Biden becomes president, although she seemed to suggest these would be her final two years in the leadership post. The California Democrat, the first woman to be speaker, already has served six years in the job, but the next two loom as her toughest.
President Donald Trump continues to block a smooth transition of power to the next president, refusing to allow his administration to cooperate with Biden’s transition team. Specifically, the Trump administration is denying Biden access to detailed briefings on national security and pandemic planning that leaders in both parties say are important for preparing Biden to govern immediately after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
Trying to bypass the Trump administration altogether, Biden on Thursday met virtually with a collection of leading Republican and Democratic governors.
“Unfortunately, my administration hasn’t been able to get everything we need,” Biden told the National Governors Association’s leadership team as he vowed to rise above politics in a unified front against the virus. “There’s a real desire for real partnership between the states and the federal government.”
The Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday on “CBS This Morning” that Biden’s charge that the transition delays would cost American lives is “absolutely incorrect.”
“Every aspect of what we do is completely transparent — no secret data or knowledge,” Azar said.
Trump, meanwhile, is intensifying his brazen attempts to sow doubt on the election results. The outgoing president’s unprecedented campaign to spread misinformation now includes pressuring Michigan officials to block the certification of their state’s election results.
Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes, a margin 15 times larger than Trump’s when he won the state four years ago.
Election law experts see Trump’s push as the last, dying gasps of his campaign and say Biden is certain to walk into the Oval Office come January. But there is great concern that Trump’s effort is doing real damage to public faith in the integrity of U.S. elections.
Associated Press Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed from Washington.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.