Biden to meet with Pelosi and Schumer as Trump regime continues to frustrate handover

<p>Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi&nbsp;</p>

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 

16:19pm, Fri 20 Nov 2020
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President-elect Joe Biden will hold his first in-person meeting since winning the US election with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Mr Biden will host the top Democrats in the House and Senate at his makeshift transition headquarters in a theatre in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. Their discussion is expected to be private although the immediate challenges they face are no secret.

The new governing team is already facing intense pressure to approve another Covid-19 relief bill and come up with a clear plan to distribute millions of doses of a prospective vaccine.

Biden (AP)

Mr Biden is also just days away from unveiling the first of his Cabinet picks, which are subject to Senate confirmation.

The president-elect has 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 Ms Pelosi to be the speaker who guides them again next year as Biden becomes president. 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 Mr Biden’s transition team.

Specifically, the Trump administration is denying Mr Biden access to detailed briefings on national security and pandemic planning. Leaders in both parties say these are important for preparing Mr Biden to govern immediately after his inauguration on January 20.

Chuck Schumer (AP)

Trying to bypass the Trump administration altogether, Mr Biden met virtually with a collection of leading Republican and Democratic governors on Thursday.

Vowing to rise above politics in a unified front against coronavirus, Mr Biden told the National Governors Association’s leadership team: “Unfortunately, my administration hasn’t been able to get everything we need.

“There’s a real desire for real partnership between the states and the federal government.”

Alex Azar, President Trump’s health and human services secretary, said that Mr 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,” he told CBS’s This Morning on Friday.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, is intensifying attempts to sow doubt on the election results. On Thursday, Republican officials tried to block the certification of Michigan’s election results but backed down after intense criticism.

Mr Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes – a margin 15 times larger than Mr Trump’s when he won the state four years ago.

Election law experts see Mr Trump’s push as the last gasps of his campaign and say Biden is certain to walk into the Oval Office come January. But there is great concern that he is damaging public faith in the integrity of US elections.

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