Biden calls for virus relief package
WILMINGTON, Del. — Presidentelect Joe Biden is pushing Congress to approve billions of dollars in emergency COVID19 assistance before he takes office, saying in a meeting Friday with the top Democrats in the House and Senate that such a package should be approved during the lameduck session.
Biden held his first inperson meeting since winning the election with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. The incoming Democratic president hosted them on Friday at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Del.
Biden sat with Schumer, Pelosi and Vice Presidentelect Kamala Harris, all wearing masks and spaced out around a bank of tables.
“In my Oval Office, mi casa, you casa,” Biden said during the brief portion of the meeting that journalists were allowed to see. “I hope we’re going to spend a lot of time together.”
Pelosi said at an earlier news conference that she and Schumer would be talking with Biden about “the urgency of crushing the virus,” as well as how to use the lameduck session of Congress, legislation on keeping the government funded and COVID19 relief.
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.
But on Friday, McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, proposed that Congress shift $ 455 billion of unspent smallbusiness lending funds toward a new COVID19 aid package. His offer came after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Biden’s new governing team is facing intense pressure to approve another COVID19 relief bill and come up with a clear plan to distribute millions of doses of a prospective vaccine, even as Biden is just days away from unveiling the first of his Cabinet picks, which are subject to Senate confirmation.
The sense of urgency in the meeting was echoed in comments earlier Friday by Biden transition aide Jen Psaki, who warned that “there’s no more room for delay.“
Psaki said that Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are already working together to push for a pandemic relief bill before Congress adjourns for the year.
“They’re in lockstep agreement that there needs to be emergency assistance and aid during the lameduck session to help families, to help small businesses,” Psaki said.
Presidentelect Joe Biden arrives for meetings at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Del.