President-elect Joe Biden said Monday “more people could die” if outgoing President Donald Trump continues to block a change of power in the US as the coronavirus pandemic worsens, and he urged Congress to pass new relief laws.
Biden said business and union leaders have signaled a willingness to work together to bolster the pandemic-ravaged U.S. economy, but stressed that COVID-19 must first be brought under control.
The Democratic President-elect delivered a speech and answered questions from reporters in Wilmington, Delaware after consulting with US corporate CEOs and union leaders on Monday. He welcomed further progress in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Biden will inherit an economy that lost millions of jobs during a pandemic that killed more than 246,000 people in the U.S. U.S. COVID-19 cases rise as Biden prepares for office on Jan. 20.
“We’re going into a very dark winter. Things are getting a lot harder before they get easier,” Biden said of the pandemic.
Biden again urged the Trump administration to work with his transition team to stem the surge in certain cases. “If we don’t coordinate, more people can die,” he said.
He called on Congress to pass a pandemic relief law. Talks on such laws were suspended for months before the November 3rd elections.
However, Biden insisted that Trump’s refusal to admit did not hamper his transition efforts. “I find this embarrassing for the country rather than debilitating my ability to get started,” he said.
On other economic matters, Biden said he plans a “fairer tax structure” with companies paying their fair share, adding that he wants to see a nationwide minimum wage of $ 15 an hour. Biden said no government contracts will be awarded to companies that do not make products in the United States.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris previously held a video conference at noon with several senior executives, including Mary Barra of General Motors Co, Satya Nadella of Microsoft Corp, Brian Cornell of Target Corp, and Sonia Syngal of Gap Inc.
In statements, the companies referred to Biden as an “elected president” and GM said it was looking forward to “working with the new administration” – a silent rejection of Trump’s contest on the election results.
Also present were AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and the heads of the Service Employees International Union, the United Auto Workers and two other large unions.
“READY FOR PRIME TIME”
According to Biden, Moderna Inc’s announcement that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective, based on interim data from a late-stage study, gave new hope for fighting the coronavirus. Coupled with last week’s positive results on a shot by Pfizer Inc., the news from Moderna added to optimism that widespread vaccination in the coming months could help tame the pandemic.
When asked if he would be personally willing to be vaccinated with one of the newly developed shots, Biden told reporters, “I would not hesitate to get the vaccine.”
“They seem ready for prime time, ready to be used,” Biden said of the two vaccine candidates.
Biden urged Americans to limit the number of people at gatherings for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, promoting social distancing and masks.
TRUMP DIGS IN
Biden pushed economic planning forward, despite Republican Trump again refusing to accept his loss of the election on Monday. Trump’s national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, said Monday he was ready to ensure a professional transition to Biden’s team.
“If the Biden Harris ticket is determined to be the winner and it obviously looks like it now, we will have a very professional transition from the National Security Council, no question about it,” said O’Brien.
Biden defeated Trump on state-to-state electoral college by the same 306-232 lead that led Trump to proclaim a “landslide” victory in 2016. Biden also won the national referendum with at least 5.5 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points, with some ballot papers still counted.
Trump has so far made no progress on legal action in several states. On Monday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission announced that a statewide vote recount would cost an estimated $ 7.9 million, money Trump would have to pay upfront if he requested one.
According to Edison Research, Biden Wisconsin won 0.7 percentage points, or about 20,000 votes, with 99% of ballots counted.
Election officials from both parties said there was no evidence of major irregularities. Federal election security officials have condemned “unsubstantiated allegations” and expressed “great confidence” in the integrity of the elections.
Trump suffered yet another setback when James Bopp, a Conservative attorney, voluntarily withdrew lawsuits in federal courts Monday to prevent the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from confirming their election results. In the lawsuits, unfounded claims for illegal voting were asserted.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)