2020 Daily Trail Markers: Biden pleads with Democrats and Republicans to come together for COVID-19 relief bill

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday issued an urgent plea for Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill to set aside their policy differences and reach consensus on a coronavirus relief bill as the nation braces for a “very dark winter” with coronavirus infections skyrocketing, report CBS News digital politics assistant managing editor Stefan Becket and digital reporter Melissa Quinn. “The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control,” Mr. Biden said in remarks on the economy after meeting with business and labor leaders. “It’s a conscious decision. It’s a choice that we make.” Mr. Biden said the American people are desperate for elected officials in both parties to “cooperate” and “deliver results” that alleviate the economic pain wrought by the pandemic and called for Congress to “come together and pass a COVID-relief package” such as the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion package passed by the House in May. The measure, however, is a nonstarter in the GOP-led Senate, where Republicans are at an impasse with their Democratic colleagues on the size and scope of the next economic relief bill. Mr. Biden underscored the need for Congress to provide federal aid to state and local governments, many of which are facing budget shortfalls due to a sharp decline in revenues because of the coronavirus crisis, and warned continued inaction could lead to layoffs of emergency workers. “The idea the president is still playing golf and not doing anything about it is beyond my comprehension,” the president-elect said. “What is he doing?”

The president-elect’s remarks on his economic agenda followed a remote briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, and came as the stock market surged on news that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine has been shown to be nearly 95% effective. While Mr. Biden praised the efforts of Moderna and Pfizer, which announced last week that human trials suggest its coronavirus vaccine is 90% effective, he reiterated his calls for Americans to adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear masks. “We’re going into a very dark winter,” he said. “Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier.” In the days after he was projected to be the winner of the presidential election, Mr. Biden announced a COVID-19 advisory board comprised of doctors and scientists, which will create a blueprint for tackling the pandemic once his administration is in office. But Mr. Biden said his team needs access to the Trump administration’s plans for distributing a coronavirus vaccine, which he called a “huge undertaking,” in order to be fully prepared to address the pandemic once in office. “If we have to wait until January 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half,” he said. “So it’s important there be coordination now, now or as rapidly as we can get that done.” If the incoming administration does not coordinate with the Trump administration, “more people may die,” Mr. Biden warned. While the president-elect is moving forward with his transition to take over the White House, Mr. Trump has yet to concede the election, and the General Services Administration has not yet ascertained Mr. Biden as the likely winner, keeping his team from accessing federal funding, resources and agency staff. The president-elect said he has spoken with some Republicans and hopes the president “will be mildly more enlightened before we get to January 20.” “I find this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started,” Mr. Biden said of the president’s decision not to concede the election. The president-elect also delivered a message to Republicans who continue to defend Mr. Trump. “I will work with you,” he said. “I understand a lot of your reluctance because of the way the president operates.”

When asked by CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion if he would get vaccinated if the FDA gives emergency authorization to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in the coming weeks, Mr. Biden said, “I wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine” if Dr. Fauci and Moderna and/or Pfizer “conclude that it is safe and able to be done.” Mr. Biden added, “The only reason people question the vaccine now is because of Donald Trump.”

TRANSITION WATCH

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Trump Campaign lawyers Linda A. Kerns, John B. Scott and Douglas Bryan Hughes have withdrawn from the Trump campaign’s federal lawsuit against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Boockvar, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. The campaign will now be represented by Marc A. Scaringi. Mr. Trump’s campaign counsel on Sunday significantly pared down the lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania federal court, abandoning allegations that hundreds of thousands of mail-in and absentee ballots being processed without their team watching. The abridged lawsuit, filed in federal court on Sunday, still seeks to block Pennsylvania from certifying its votes for president-elect Joe Biden. The president reprised his false claims of victory on Twitter today, alleging, “I won the election!” in an early morning missive. CBS News has projected Mr. Biden will win the 2020 presidential election. 

STATE-BY-STATE

WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) announced on Monday that a statewide recount would cost about $7.9 million dollars. According to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster, that money would have to be paid before the recount begins by the campaign who requests the recount. The Trump campaign said after the election that they planned to ask for a recount in Wisconsin, but they still can’t request one until counties are finished with their canvassing process. That has to be completed by Tuesday. The Trump campaign would have until 5:00 p.m. the following day to ask for a recount. “We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount,” Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s top election official, said in a statement on Monday. “But we want Wisconsin’s voters to know we are ready.” In 2016, Jill Stein paid $3.5 million for a recount in Wisconsin, but was later refunded $1.5 million for a total cost of $2 million. Trump campaign counsel Jenna Ellis told CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga in a statement, “The legal team continues to examine the issues with irregularities in Wisconsin and are leaving all legal options open, including a recount and an audit.”

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

There are still a handful of uncalled House races, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarrothough the latest called races have been adding to the Republicans’ ranks. On Monday, Democrat Ben McAdams of Utah’s 4th conceded to Republican Burgess Owens. When asked about the GOP messaging of socialism and the recent finger-pointing between progressive and centrist House Democrats, McAdams said he has tried to emphasize he is not part of the “far left extreme of the Democratic party.” He added that the Democratic party should take lessons from these incumbent losses, saying there has to be a new, unified, “bridge builder” type of message. “Nobody can tell me what my constituents want to see and hear and know,” McAdams said specifically about criticism from progressives on moderate campaigns. “Every day, I’m listening to them and talking to them and I know what they care about. And I think the left wing of the Democratic party needs to do a little bit more listening to those who represent districts like mine.” In California’s 39th, Democrat Gil Cisneros lost to Republican Young Kim and conceded on Friday after the Associated Press called the race. Kim will also be among the first Korean-American women to be elected to Congress, joining Republican Michelle Steele and Democrat Marilyn Strickland.

There are now the 12 overall flips for House Republicans, and they still have some pending opportunities in California’s 21st, Iowa’s 2nd (which is under a recount this week) and New York’s 19th and 22nd. California’s 25th is looking like the best remaining chance for Democrats to flip a seat themselves. In New York’s 24th, Democrat challenger Dana Balter conceded to Republican incumbent John Katko. In Illinois’ 14th, the AP has called the race for incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood. Republican Jim Oberweis has not yet conceded, and attended new members orientation during the weekend anyway. On Monday, outgoing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos tweeted that she tested positive for COVID-19. She said she’ll be self-isolating and working from home until cleared by her physician. The election to replace Bustos as DCCC chair will take place the week of November 30.

GOVERNORS MANSION

MARYLAND

During remarks Monday at the Reagan Institute, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said Mr. Trump should concede and begin the transition process, especially to help the incoming administration with preparing to handle COVID-19. Navarro reports that Hogan, a Republican, said the lack of communication between the Trump and Biden taskforces could result in the loss of progress on the vaccine. “You have guys who don’t know anything, that are coming in – we’re in the middle of a war, and we don’t know who the general’s going to be. We don’t know what the game plan is,” he said. “And we can’t wait ’til the end of January, 200,000 people are going to die between now and inauguration. We have to get on it now.” Hogan, who has spoken out against Mr. Trump before and wrote in Ronald Reagan on his ballot, said the president is losing his credibility by continuing to draw out the narrative of election fraud or a stolen election. He added that it might alienate voters ahead of the Georgia Senate run-offs. “I think this is tarnishing the brand and hurting our chances of keeping the Senate that may cost us seats in Georgia, which is a pretty big deal,” Hogan told reporters after his remarks.

Hogan, a popular Republican governor who has won two terms in a blue state and is seen as a potential 2024 candidate, talked about the need for the Republican party to focus on civility and widen their electorate if they want to win national elections. But he did downplay the thought that he was beginning a 2024 campaign, saying he still has to deal with the pandemic and finish out the rest of his term as governor. He added that he doesn’t think Mr. Trump will run in 2024 and that it’ll be up to the Republican party whether or not they continue his style of politics. “But I’m going to be the one on the other side saying we have to think about the future, not look to the past,” he said.



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