Trump-Biden transition live updates: Biden announces pick for FEMA chief

Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, KENNEDEY BELL, LAUREN KING and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in five days.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach Trump on on article for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — making him the only president to be impeached twice.

Here is how the scene is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Jan 15, 6:46 pm
Barry Berke, veteran of Trump’s 1st impeachment, to be House Dems’ top lawyer for 2nd trial

Barry Berke, the veteran New York defense lawyer who helped House Democrats argue President Donald Trump’s first impeachment last year, will rejoin the House Judiciary Committee as the panel’s lead impeachment lawyer for Trump’s second trial, the panel announced Friday.

Berke will serve as chief impeachment counsel, supported by a team of attorneys from the House Judiciary and Oversight committees who helped Democrats make their case to the Senate last year that Trump abused his office by trying to pressure Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden.

While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., unveiled a team of nine new impeachment managers to make the case that Trump should be convicted of inciting the Capitol Hill riot that left five people dead, the presence of Berke and the rest of the legal team underscores the unique position House Democrats are in: For the first time in American history, they will have a team of lawyers behind them with experience arguing in a Senate impeachment trial.

Democrats could transmit the impeachment article to the Senate as early as next week, which could trigger the start of proceedings following Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

There has been no official announcement on who will represent Trump in the trial, but personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Alan Dershowitz, who took part in the last trial, may be on the team, sources told ABC News. Trump favorite John Eastman, who led a failed election challenge to the Supreme Court, could also join the team.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Benjamin Siegel

Jan 15, 5:35 pm
Biden says he feels safe for inauguration

As law enforcement agencies prepare for Wednesday’s inauguration, Biden told reporters he feels safe about the upcoming ceremony.

When asked at the end of a briefing on his vaccination plan Friday if he felt safe about Inauguration Day based on the intelligence he’s seen, the president-elect simply, loudly and clearly said “Yes” before exiting the room.

The FBI, DHS, Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police, along with several local law enforcement agencies, have issued an extensive “threat assessment” surrounding Wednesday’s inauguration.

There also will be 25,000 National Guardsmen in the nation’s capital to aid with security that day, ABC News has learned.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Jan 15, 4:40 pm
Kentucky State Capitol grounds to close Sunday

The Kentucky State Capitol grounds will be closed on Sunday, amid reports of threats against state capitols in the coming days, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday.

“Our commitment is that what happened at the U.S. Capitol will not happen here,” Beshear said in a statement.

There will be an increased law enforcement presence at the state Capitol for the next several days, including support from the Kentucky National Guard, and areas near the Capitol will be closed on Sunday, the governor said.

There are no gatherings or rallies planned in the coming days, he noted.

Jan 15, 4:24 pm
Biden announces 5-point vaccination plan

Biden outlined a five-point vaccination plan Friday to ramp up rollout when he takes office.

On day one, he said he plans to instruct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to start opening the first of thousands of federally supported community vaccination centers across the nation. By the end of his first month in office, 100 of these centers will be open, Biden said, at places that are “convenient and accessible,” such as school gymnasiums, community centers and sports stadiums.

“As we build them, we’re going to make sure it’s done equitably,” Biden said. “We’re going to make sure there are vaccination sites in areas hit harder by the pandemic, in Black and Hispanic communities as well.”

Within the first month, his administration also plans to promote mobile vaccination clinics “to hard-hit and hard-to-reach communities in cities, small towns and in rural communities,” he said.

Thirdly, the administration plans to “fully activate the pharmacies across the country to get the vaccination into more arms as quickly as possible,” Biden said. This will include working with both independent and chain pharmacies to help people more easily make appointments, he said.

The fourth point of the plan involves ramping up vaccine supply through the Defense Production Act, Biden said.

“We’ll use the Defense Protection Act to work with private industry to accelerate the making of materials needed to supply and administer the vaccine, from tubes and syringes to protective equipment,” Biden said.

Lastly, Biden promised transparency on vaccine supply.

“We’re going to make sure state and local officials know how much supply they’ll be getting and when they can expect to get it so they can plan,” he said. “Right now, we’re hearing that they can’t plan, because they don’t know how much supply of vaccines they can expect at what time frame.”

Biden stressed that his administration is not changing the Food and Drug Administration’s recommended dosing schedules.

“We believe it’s critical that everyone should get two doses within the FDA-recommended time frame. So we’re not doing away with that availability,” he said.

Jan 15, 3:52 pm
Top White House science team members announced

Ahead of planned remarks Friday afternoon on his vaccination program, Biden released the names of top members of his White House science team.

Dr. Francis Collins will continue in his role as director of the National Institutes of Health, Biden announced.

Biden also wrote a letter to Dr. Eric Lander, the presidential science advisor-designate and nominee for director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), tasking him to “work broadly and transparently with the diverse scientific leadership of American society.”

Here are all the positions announced Friday by the Biden team:

-Dr. Eric Lander will be nominated as director of the OSTP and serve as the presidential science advisor.

-Dr. Alondra Nelson will serve as OSTP deputy director for science and society.

-Dr. Frances H. Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber will serve as the external co-chairs of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

-Dr. Francis Collins will continue serving in his role as director of the National Institutes of Health.

-Kei Koizumi will serve as OSTP chief of staff and is one of the nation’s leading experts on the federal science budget.

-Narda Jones will serve as OSTP legislative affairs director.

-ABC News’ John Verhovek

Jan 15, 3:52 pm
Buttigieg’s nomination hearing expected next week

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is expected to hold Pete Buttigieg’s nomination hearing for transportation secretary on Thursday at 10 a.m.

This is the sixth Cabinet-level nomination hearing to be noticed. Others expected for next week: Avril Haines to serve as director of national intelligence, Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary, Tony Blinken to serve as secretary of state, Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense, and Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as Department of Homeland Security secretary.

Jan 15, 3:05 pm
Avril Haines nomination hearing scheduled for Tuesday

The nomination hearing for Avril Haines, Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, is now scheduled for Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced. The hearing is slated to start at 10 a.m. ET.

It was originally scheduled for Friday but was then postponed.

Jan 15, 2:48 pm
Army says there will be 25,000 National Guardsman in DC for inauguration

A spokesperson for the U.S. Army confirmed that there will be 25,000 National Guardsmen in the nation’s capital to aid with security for Biden’s inauguration.

“The Defense Department has agreed to provide up to 25,000 service members to support the Presidential Inauguration National Special Security Event federal law enforcement mission and security preparations, as led by the U.S. Secret Service,” the spokesperson said. “The Department of the Army and the National Guard Bureau are working on a sourcing solution now to support this request.”

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jan 15, 2:00 pm
Officials issue wide-ranging ‘threat assessment’ ahead of Biden’s inauguration

The FBI, DHS, Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police, along with several local law enforcement agencies, have issued an extensive “threat assessment” surrounding Wednesday’s inauguration.

It covers a range of threats surrounding the inauguration, including not only physical threats from domestic terrorists but also influence campaigns from Russia, China and Iran stemming from the Capitol siege. It even covers physical threats from drones.

The memo says domestic extremists is the “most likely” threat to the inauguration, citing recent incidents of ideologically motivated violence, including the deadly mob at the U.S. Capitol building.

Regarding foreign concerns, the assessment said that since the incident at the Capitol, “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition.”

“We have not identified any specific, credible information indicating that these actors intend to explicitly commit violence,” it added. “Furthermore, we have not identified any specific, credible cyber threat to critical infrastructure supporting the upcoming Presidential Inauguration nor a specific credible cyber threat to military or law enforcement personnel supporting the event.”

The memo did say, however, that Russian state media has “amplified themes related to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, impeachment of President Trump, and social media censorship.”

Iranian state media has “continued to stoke claims that President Trump encouraged and incited the violence, as well as calls to invoke the 25th amendment,” the memo added. It has also “amplified perceived concerns related to President Trump’s mental health and the prospect of other risky actions he could take before leaving office.”

Finally, it noted that Chinese media has “seized the story to denigrate US democratic governance — casting the United States as broadly in decline — and to justify China’s crackdown on protestors in Hong Kong.”

Lastly, the memo warned that drones could disrupt law enforcement operations at the inauguration, though it added that it does not have “specific, credible information” indicating malicious actors have plans to use unmanned aircraft systems to target the event.

-ABC News’ Mike Levine

Jan 15, 1:40 pm
Vice President Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Harris

Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on a call Thursday, sources familiar with the call told ABC News.

The news was first reported by the New York Times. 


Jan 15, 1:36 pm
How Trump plans to leave the White House

Sources told ABC News that Trump has requested a large sendoff hours before President-elect Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday.  


Sources say Trump plans to depart the White House next Wednesday morning, choppering via Marine One to Joint Base Andrews where he is expected to give remarks to supporters and departing members of his administration. 

Sources add that Trump has requested the event to have a “military-like feel” though details are still not finalized. The president will then fly down to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida onboard Air Force One with a small number of staffers who will be part of his post-presidency operation, according to the sources. 

Jan 15, 1:30 pm
DC mayor says National Mall will be temporarily closed for Biden’s inauguration

During a news conference Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the National Mall is temporarily closed to the public through at least Thursday. 

Thirteen metro stations inside the security perimeter will also be closed. 

Bowser said the National Mall closure came at the request of and in cooperation with the Secret Service and the National Park Service.

The mayor urged Americans to enjoy the inauguration virtually from home this year. 

She also discussed the city’s beefed-up security ahead of the inauguration but told D.C. residents she doesn’t expect the security measures currently in place to last too long after Biden takes office.

Jan 15, 12:55 pm
Nomination hearing for Avril Haines postponed

The nomination hearing for Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has been postponed. It was originally scheduled for Friday.

A joint statement from Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Marco Rubio and Vice Chairman Mark Warner on Thursday confirmed the postponement. It did not give specific reasons, but referenced the “unusual circumstances on Capitol Hill.”

Rubio and Warner added that they “look forward to holding a hearing next week” for Haines, but did not list a specific date.

Jan 15, 12:49 pm
Extremism seen on Jan. 6 ‘very likely part of an ongoing trend’

Far from a one-off event, the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol emboldened extremists and “is very likely part of an ongoing trend,” according to a joint intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News.

The trend involves domestic extremists exploiting lawful gatherings to engage in violence and criminal activity and the bulletin said that “very likely will increase throughout 2021.”

Targets include racial, ethnic and religious minorities along with journalists and government officials.

“Narratives surrounding the perceived success of the 6 January breach of the US Capitol, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories will likely lead to an increased [domestic violent extremist] threat towards representatives of federal, state, and local governments across the United States, particularly in the lead-in to the 20 January Presidential Inauguration,” the bulletin said.

Beyond the inauguration, the bulletin said gun control legislation, the easing of immigration restrictions and limits on the use of public land could antagonize extremists.

There is a range of groups that share what the bulletin called the “false narrative of a stolen election.”

“In-person engagement between domestic violent extremists of differing ideological goals during the Capitol breach likely served to foster connections, which may increase DVEs’ willingness, capability, and motivation to attack and undermine a government they view as illegitimate,” the bulletin said.

Jan 15, 12:43 pm
Incoming WH press secretary reveals some details of Biden’s vaccine push

In a series of tweets Friday, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki provided some information on the structure of the Biden administration’s vaccination effort and confirmed that the program will not go by the “Operation Warp Speed” name created by the Trump administration.

Psaki also said that Bechara Choucair, previously announced as the Biden team’s vaccination coordinator, will lead the 100 million doses delivered in 100 days effort, while Dr. David Kessler’s role will focus on maximizing the current supply of vaccine and to get more online as quickly as possible.

Jan 15, 12:17 pm
Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen and John Legend to perform at Biden’s inauguration event

Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, the Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen have joined the growing list of celebrities who will appear at the star-studded event celebrating Biden’s inauguration next week.
The event, hosted by Tom Hanks, will be a primetime television special that will air the night after the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20.

Longoria and Washington “will introduce segments throughout the night ranging from stories of young people making a difference in their communities to musical performances,” Biden’s inaugural committee said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, the Foo Fighters, Springsteen and Legend will perform remotely “from iconic locations across the country, joining Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons and Jon Bon Jovi with additional performances to be announced ahead of January 20,” the committee said.

The committee had previously announced that Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem while Biden and Harris are sworn in. Jennifer Lopez will also give a musical performance.

Jan 15, 12:06 pm
Pelosi says managers are ‘preparing’ for Trump’s impeachment trial

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that “our managers are solemnly and prayerfully preparing” for Trump’s impeachment trial, “which they will take to the Senate.”

“Justice is called for as we address the active insurrection that was perpetrated against the Capitol complex last week,” Pelosi said during her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

Pelosi did not specify when the article of impeachment will be sent to the Senate, prompting the trial. According to Senate rules, the trial would begin the day after the impeachment charge is sent over by the House of Representatives.

“You’ll be the first to know when we announce that we’re going over there,” she told reporters.

Pelosi noted how quickly the House voted to impeach the president, just one week after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which she said was “incentivised” by Trump.

“So urgent was the matter,” she told reporters.

When asked about the role members of Congress may have played in the riot, Pelosi said they would be held accountable.

“If it in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime,” she said, “there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution.”

The speaker also announced that she’s asked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore — who helped coordinate the military relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina — to lead an “immediate review” of security failings at the Capitol, reviewing security infrastructure, the interagency process, and command and control.

At the start of Friday’s press conference, Pelosi quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

Jan 15, 11:08 am
Biden announces additions to White House staff

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have announced additional White House picks — with many familiar faces from Biden’s 2020 campaign staff.

While she was not expected to join the administration and instead return to her communication’s firm SKDKnickerbocker, Anita Dunn will be serving as a senior adviser to the president — marking yet another longtime Biden adviser and a member of the highest echelons of his campaign joining the White House in a senior role.

TJ Ducklo, the national spokesperson for the campaign, will also join the White House as deputy press secretary alongside Karine Jean-Pierre. Deputy press secretary Matt Hill will join as a senior associate communications director.

Biden’s campaign photographer and videographer will also take on similar roles in the administration.

Jan 15, 9:37 am
House committee asks hotels, travel companies to help identify ‘inciters and attackers’

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform has sent letters to two dozen hotels and private travel companies seeking help in identifying rioters and preventing future attacks in Washington, D.C., ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

“While the inciters and attackers bear direct responsibility for the siege on the Capitol and will be held fully accountable, they relied on a range of companies and services to get them there and house them once they arrived—companies that law-abiding Americans use every day, but whose services were hijacked to further the January 6 attacks,” committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., wrote in the letters. “Trump supporters chartered scores of buses and vans and drove in caravans to the nation’s capital. They stayed in D.C. hotels, with videos showing attackers relaxing in the lobby of one hotel after the insurrection.”

The committee has asked the businesses — ranging from major hotel chains to bus and car rental companies — to retain records of January reservations for future congressional investigations, to put in place additional screening measures “to ensure that your services are not being used to facilitate violence or domestic terrorism,” and to provide information to the committee by Jan. 29 on those measures.

Jan 15, 8:54 am
FBI warns of possible explosives at expected protests linked to inauguration

The danger to the public and to law enforcement officers from explosive devices during expected upcoming protests “is substantial,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a new awareness bulletin obtained by ABC News on Friday.

The document is full of photos of devices used in the last eight months against civilian and law enforcement targets during public demonstrations.

“Devices targeting infrastructure also increased following violent activity during this time period,” the bulletin states.

The FBI now wants to make first responders aware of what has been deployed in the past and what they might encounter during protests linked to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

“The danger posed to law enforcement officers and the general public from the all the tactics listed is substantial,” the bulletin states. “If a suspicious item is reasonably believed to contain explosives, an IED, or other hazardous material, DO NOT touch, tamper with, or move the item. Only bomb disposal personal should handle any suspected devices that are located.”

An internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News earlier this week stated that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols as well as at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, least through Inauguration Day.

The warning comes after suspected pipe bombs were found last week outside both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee headquarters, just a few blocks from the Capitol where pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

Jan 15, 8:33 am
Biden picks former FDA head to help lead Operation Warp Speed

Biden has chosen Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to help lead the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine initiative.

Kessler, a pediatrician and lawyer who headed the FDA from 1999 to 1997 under the Bush and Clinton administrations, will replace Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is the current chief science officer to Operation Warp Speed.

Biden also announced several other appointees who will join his incoming administration’s COVID-19 response team.

“We are in a race against time, and we need a comprehensive strategy to quickly contain this virus,” the president-elect said in a statement Thursday. “The individuals announced today will bolster the White House’s COVID-19 Response team and play important roles in carrying out our rescue plan and vaccination program. At a time when American families are facing numerous challenges I know these public servants will do all that is needed to build our nation back better.”

Jan 15, 7:46 am
Biden announces pick for FEMA chief, other key administration posts

With just five days until his inauguration, Biden announced Thursday his pick to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along with several other key posts for his incoming administration.

Deanne Criswell is his nominee for FEMA administrator. Janet McCabe is his nominee for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Shalanda Young is his nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Jason Miller is his nominee for deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. And David Cohen is his appointee for deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“These dedicated and distinguished leaders will bring the highest level of experience, integrity, and knowledge to bear on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans. I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”

Jan 14, 10:46 pm
New California senator says he’s prepared for impeachment trial, coronavirus response

Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State and the man who will fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat in the Senate, told ABC News he’s prepared to balance both the impeachment trial and response to COVID-19 when he’s sworn in next week.

“We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Padilla said. “It’s not either or, COVID-19 response is absolutely important. Holding President Trump accountable is extremely important. And doing our part, as the Biden-Harris administration settles, is also extremely important. So we’re prepared to do what it takes.”

 

“There has to be accountability, nobody is above the law.”@AlexPadilla4CA, U.S. Senator Designate for California, joins @ABCNewsLive to discuss impeachment and the COVID-19 pandemic. https://t.co/d08otzkRdW pic.twitter.com/9j95A4SCaQ

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 15, 2021

 

He said he doesn’t know how the Senate will vote, but believes a “rebalanced leadership” with Democrats in the White House, Senate and House, will give the party “tremendous opportunity” to achieve their goals.

When asked whether he believes last week’s riot at the Capitol would embolden further attacks, he said, “Frankly, when I saw the images last Wednesday, it only emboldened my resolve to want to get to work, and want to get to work quickly.”

Jan 14, 10:46 pm
Va. governor ready for potential threat at state capital

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he sent 2,000 National Guardsmen and hundreds of state police to help stop the president’s supporters from rioting at the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress last week.

Now, with Biden’s inauguration just days away, he said his state is prepared to ensure a peaceful transition of power in Washington, D.C., and ready to face any other threats that might emerge after multiple recent reports of threats at capital buildings throughout the country.

“Unfortunately, we have experience here in Virginia,” Northam told ABC News’ Linsey Davis. “We had the riots in Charlottesville back in August 2017, and then we had a lot of armed protesters in January (2020), and so, we have some experience.”

 

“Words have meaning, and our leaders need to be very careful with how they message to those that support them.”@GovernorVA Ralph Northam joins @ABCNewsLive to discuss security precautions Virginia is taking following U.S. Capitol siege. https://t.co/d08otzkRdW pic.twitter.com/M9FRYQlRse

— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) January 15, 2021

 

With fences posted around the state’s capital building and windows boarded up, Northam said it’s “an unfortunate situation, but we’ve made it known to these individuals that if they come here looking for trouble, that we’re ready and the outcome is not going to be good for them.”

Northam said that the riot at the Capitol has also impacted his state’s ability to vaccinate people for the coronavirus.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re having to use the resources that we are (using),” he said. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. … The Guardsmen, they’ve been very involved with our testing and now our vaccination program. We’d like to have them doing that, but instead, we have a president that has incited violence and we need to protect the country.”

Jan 14, 8:42 pm
Biden outlines major points of recovery plan during his address

Biden outlined the major points of his rescue plan: a $1.9 trillion proposal that includes a nationwide vaccination program, $1,400 checks for individuals, an extension and expansion of unemployment benefits and help for struggling communities and businesses.

Biden placed particular emphasis on housing and food insecurity and spoke about expanding SNAP benefits. He said his policy plan would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, potentially previewing an executive action we could see next week. He also asked Congress to appropriate funds for rental assistance.

Biden, who preached bipartisanship while on the trail, said both he and Vice President-elect Harris had spoken with officials, mayors, and governors of both parties on a regular basis to address the problems across the country.

 

President-elect Biden: “There should be a national minimum wage of $15 an hour. No one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.” https://t.co/HM56zeUPmw pic.twitter.com/xvaVDo2Bb3

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 15, 2021

 

The president-elect also emphasized his plan’s focus on helping small businesses and minority-owned businesses in particular, criticizing the Trump administration’s initial approach which he said favored the wealthy and well-connected.

“Last week, I laid out how we’ll make sure that our emergency small business relief is distributed swiftly and equitably, unlike the first time around. We’re going to focus on small businesses, on Main Street. We’ll focus on minority-owned small businesses, women-owned small businesses, and finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and to rebuild,” Biden said.

He also pushed his plan for a mandatory federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

“People tell me that’s going to be hard to pass. Florida just passed it, as divided as that state is, they just passed it. The rest of the country is ready to move as well,” he said. “No one working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line. And that’s what it means. If you work for less than $15 an hour and work 40 hours a week, you’re living in poverty.”

 

President-elect Biden: “The very health of our nation is at stake… We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most.” https://t.co/s8IAVd0H4U pic.twitter.com/CEQPOjxYgy

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 15, 2021

 

He frankly noted the “bold, practical” policy he was putting forward did not come cheap but argued there was no option to act.

“I know what I just described does not come cheaply. But failure to do so will cost us dearly,” he said. “The consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do what I’m proposing.”

Biden ended his remarks with a call for unity and optimism, referencing his inauguration on Wednesday as a “new chapter for the country.”

Jan 14, 8:38 pm
Biden announces joint session of Congress next month

During his address Thursday, Biden announced his first joint session of Congress will take place next month, where he will address the second pillar of his recovery plan, focused on investments in infrastructure.  

The president-elect praised Congress for working across the aisle to pass a COVID-19 relief bill in December, but reiterated his message that the package by itself was only a “down payment.” He said more is required, framing his policy proposal as the next step and urging lawmakers to push forward.

After blasting the current administration’s vaccine distribution plan as a “dismal failure,” Biden previewed his remarks Friday, where he plans on laying out his vaccination plan.

“We’ll have to move heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in people’s arms, to increase vaccine supply and to get it out the door as fast as possible,” he said.

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